15 Surprising Facts About Saquon Barkley
Saquon, say bye-bye.
You either want him on your team, or you don’t want to play against him.
The 2018 Heisman contender lit up the field with 3,843 rushing yards, 1,195 receiving yards and even threw a touchdown pass while donning the Penn State blue and white before declaring for the 2018 NFL draft.
Saquon Barkley. A football god in the making.
Born to Run
Remember the name Saquon Barkley.
After being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the New York Giants running back has all the tools to be a star.
Size: 6 feet, 233 pounds
Speed: 4.4 40 time
Strength: 29 bench press reps at the combine
Athleticism: 41 inch vertical jump
He also has a gift that can't be measured: heart.
Not a Quitter
Saquon Barkley’s physique (that graced the pages of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue) may resemble that of a Greek deity now, but it wasn’t always that way. As a young teenager, he nearly quit the football team because he was smaller than his teammates and not getting the minutes he thought he deserved.
His father put a quick stop to that. "When you quit one thing in life, you’ll be a quitter the rest of your life," Alibay Barkey told his son. "You can do anything you put your mind to."
The recipient of the 2014 Mr. Pennsylvania Football award for AAA/AAAA schools, Saquon would go on to be a four-star running back recruit out of Whitehall High School in Lehigh Valley.
Originally committed to Rutgers University, Barkley decided to become a Nittany Lion after Penn State’s Junior Day on Feb. 15, 2014.
Although Saquon did not like going back on his word, the then-190-pound running back looked ahead to his future and thought Penn State head coach James Franklin’s "dominate, educate, graduate" approach would take him farther in football and in life.
"Coming to this school was the best decision of my life," Barkley told reporters at the Penn State football media conference in November 2016.
The Nittany Lions suffered a heartbreaking three-point loss to USC in the 2017 Rose Bowl, but not without putting up a fight. In arguably the best play in Rose Bowl history, Saquon Barkley ran all the way for a 79-yard touchdown, juking and dodging Trojan defenders.
If the world of sports did not know the name "Saquon Barkley" before, they sure did now. This run would put him on the map and the Heisman watch list.
Setting the Record Straight
Barkley arrived in Happy Valley with various goals and aspirations, one of them being "to break every single running back record" before he left Penn State.
And he almost did.
Single-season rushing record for a freshman.
Touchdown scoring record for consecutive games (15).
Only Penn-Stater, fourth Big 10 student-athlete to have 3,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards.
All-time rushing touchdowns (43).
Total touchdown record holder (53).
All-purpose yards record (5,538).
Barkley finished his collegiate career with 3,843 yards, 89 yards short of breaking Evan Royster’s career rushing record.
King for a Day
March 14 is officially "Saquon Barkley Day" in the state of Pennsylvania.
An excerpt of the official resolution reads: "WHEREAS, Penn State fans will not soon forget Barkley's contributions to the team and the university; therefore be it RESOLVED, that, in recognition of Saquon Barkley's accomplishments both on and off the field, the House of Representatives designate March 14, 2018, as 'Saquon Barkley Day' in Pennsylvania."
To commemorate this honor, Barkley’s hometown of Coplay organized a parade for their All-American hero on March 24, 2018.
The Real Deal
If any NFL scouts were skeptical about Barkley translating his record-breaking Penn State career into a show-stopping performance in the NFL, his combine results sealed his fate as a top NFL draft pick.
At 6-foot, 233 pounds of unadulterated muscle, Saquon ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash after crushing 29 bench press reps. Oh, and he’s got some hops too with a 41-inch vertical jump.
According to the NFL’s research department, Barkley is stronger than Joe Thomas, quicker than DeSean Jackson, faster than Devin Hester and jumps higher than Julio Jones. It’s no wonder Barkley’s name glistened all over the 2018 NFL combine headlines.
With the second pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the New York Football Giants selected Saquon Barkley under all of the lights at AT&T Stadium. Born in the Bronx on Feb. 7, 1997, Barkley grew up a New York Jets fan, envisioning a professional football career in the world’s largest media market.
He never would’ve admitted if his heart was set on going to the Jets, but nonetheless, he’s starting his career at MetLife Stadium, and it’s still a homecoming of sorts.
"New York, New York. It’s known all through the world. I wasn’t raised there, but I was born there. It would kind of be like going home. It’s also not that far from my actual home [Coplay, Penn.]," Barley told The New York Post.
Prior to his second pick selection, Barkley promised his parents and Penn State head coach James Franklin that he would indeed complete his undergraduate college degree.
Even amidst training for the NFL combine in Orlando, Saquon Barkley took two online classes for his broadcast journalism degree. And while he will not be earning credits during his rookie season, the communications major would like to finish his degree by 2020. Right now, Barkley is about 14 credits shy of joining the world’s largest college alumni association.
A Best Seller
According to an ESPN report, Fanatics told the network that Saquon Barkley’s jersey outperformed all other draft jersey sales in NFL draft history. Carrying over his Penn State No. 26 jersey to the New York Giants, Barkley’s fans paid about $100 a pop to support him in the royal blue.
Since April 26, 2018 Barkley’s coveted jersey sales haven’t wavered. Dick’s Sporting Goods said the Giants No. 26 leads all NFL football jersey transactions for 2018 to date.
Is It in His DNA?
In the world of sports, we often credit some of an athlete’s success on genetics. Saquon Barkley is no different. He’s the great-nephew of Iran Barkley, who defeated Tommy Hearns to become the 1988 World Boxing Council middleweight champion.
His great-uncle, nicknamed "The Blade," went 43-19-1 in his boxing career, earning six titles across three weight classes.
"I truly, truly, truly believe that if I didn’t fall in love with football, I would’ve ended up being a boxer," explained Saquon Barkley.
Pretty Impressive ‘For a Rookie’
You’ve seen his Penn State highlight reel. You’ve heard his NFL combine numbers. Is it any surprise that Saquon Barkley’s rookie contract, worth $31.2 million, makes him one of the top five highest-paid running backs in the league? Didn’t think so.
Barkley’s guaranteed four-year deal with the New York Giants includes a record-high $15 million signing bonus, while his annual salary averages out to $7.8 million per year.
Will he pass up Adrian Peterson’s all-time career earnings of $98 million? Starting off with these dollar signs, I’m thinking yes, yes, he will.
With Saquon’s quads measuring 28 inches around, the Penn State Nittany Lion mascot and Barkley’s new teammate Odell Beckham Jr. took to Twitter to show No. 26’s legs a little bit of love after Barkley threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium on May 31, 2018.
Barkley, who has put on more than 40 pounds since his senior year of high school, added another 11 pounds to his frame since a 405-pound power clean during offseason training prior to his junior Penn State season.
He sure knows how to elevate his game.
The Lynch Model
Saquon Barkley may be a rookie, but his parents have made sure he’s got a strong head on his shoulders. Following fellow NFL running back Marshawn Lynch’s financial model, Barkley has decided to live off his endorsement deals and save or invest his NFL salary.
Represented by Jay Z’s sports agency, Roc Nation Sports, Barkley already has signed endorsement deals with Nike, Pepsi and Panini America. And that all must add up to a pretty little penny because Eli Manning’s new golden boy bought his parents a house in June 2018.
Striving for Greatness
As a little boy, Saquon Barkley’s idol was legendary Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders.
Sanders, who led the Lions to their only playoff victory since the 1957 NFL championship, met his prodigy when the Giants traveled to the Lions for the second preseason matchup of 2018.
And while Saquon regrets not having his Barry Sanders action figure on hand for the Hall of Famer to sign, he did get some words of wisdom from the great.
"Keep training, keep your speed, and take care of your body. I was just kind of in awe of just being in the same vicinity of Barry Sanders," explains Barkley after meeting his hero at Ford Field.
You may think it’s Saquon Barkley’s stature and versatility that sets him apart. But his former coaches and teammates would tell you otherwise.
In an episode of ESPN’s "Mike and Mike" show, Barkley’s former coach, James Franklin, applauded Saquon, the man: "If you have an opportunity to get around him and be around him and see how he’s handled all this success at such an early age, it is remarkable. And he sets the tone for our whole organization in how he works, how he treats people, how he’s doing in school, the whole deal."
His former teammate and newly minted Denver Bronco, DaeSean Hamiliton had this to say about Barkley: "Guys like him, he could take the easy road out. Knowing how good his talent is, he could just bank on that and not have to be a leader or worry about anyone else. But he’s the exact opposite."
But perhaps Penn State defensive line coach, Sean Spencer, says it best: "He’s a tremendous character kid, and he’s always been that way."