The awards keep on coming for former Penn State star Saquon Barkley.
Barkley, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, was named the Best Breakthrough Athlete at ESPN’s 2019 ESPYs on Wednesday night. The New York Giants’ running back won the award over three other nominees: MLB outfielder Christian Yelich, NBA point guard Trae Young and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
Here’s a full transcript of Barkley’s 40-second acceptance speech:
“First and foremost, I want to say thank you to God for blessing me with the opportunity to wake up every single day and to play the sport I love and have an impact on others. I want to say and give a congratulations to all the nominees. Respect all you guys; you guys are all tremendous athletes.
“I want to say thank you to the Giants organization for drafting me and taking a chance on me. I wouldn’t be able to play the sport I love without you guys, also. Last but not least, I want to say thank you to my family and all my loved ones. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without you guys. Take care.”
Barkley took the NFL by storm in his rookie season. Despite playing on a five-win team, he finished with 1,307 rushing yards and 721 receiving yards (on 91 catches) — and he added 15 rushing/receiving TDs. He’s sparked a debate as to whether he’s already the NFL’s best running back, and he’s the consensus No. 2 overall pick in 2019 fantasy football drafts.
The Lehigh Valley native has fast become an NFL fan favorite for both his talent and good-guy reputation. And he continues to generate buzz around Happy Valley, where it’s not uncommon to spot a No. 26 Giants jersey scattered among the Penn State fans downtown.
Barkley, a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, will kick off the second season of his NFL career at 4:25 p.m. Sept. 8 against the Dallas Cowboys.