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Penn State Preseason Top 10 Players for 2017: #1 Saquon Barkley

We continue our annual top ten preseason football players of 2017 list as voted on by the BSD staff. In creating this list, we considered players’ abilities, value to the team and past performance, among other factors. We conclude our countdown with number 1 on our list, running back Saquon Barkley.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to unveil the top choice in our staff poll for Penn State Football’s 2017 Preseason Player of the Year, and it’s exactly who you think it is.

Saquon Barkley has turned heads, broken ankles, and bruised egos of fans, players, and coaches since stepping onto the field as a freshman in 2015. Since that time, he has climbed up the ranks of Penn State’s greatest running backs, and etched himself firmly in the hearts of every Nittany Lions fan. He is without question the most important part of the Blue and White’s offensive success in 2017 (though as this list has shown, he is not without help).

How He Got Here

Barkley was almost an immediate factor, seeing playing time in Week two of his first season against Buffalo. He quickly established himself as a highlight package with electrifying plays against San Diego State, Rutgers, Illinois, and of course, his 196-yard performance against Ohio State. Despite missing two games with an injury, Barkley still finished the year with 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns.

He was even better as a sophomore, rushing for just under 1,500 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns on the ground, while adding 402 yards and four touchdowns receiving-a skill he had been working on during the offseason. Again, a plethora of highlights were produced, capped by “The Run” against USC in the Rose Bowl. Here that is again, by the way.

What To Expect in 2017

Barkley has continued with his off-season tradition of working out like Ivan Drago (with no unfair enhancements, of course), and his numbers in the weight room show that he is always committed to bettering himself as a football player. That by itself should make Penn State fans giddy.

Barkley will most certainly get his touches, whether they’re carries as a running back, or passes as a receiver either out of the backfield or split out wide. However, don’t be surprised to see him spelled by Miles Sanders, Andre Robinson, or Mark Allen as the season goes on-especially Robinson on third down. However, even more than last season, he is priority number one for every defense when he is on the field, so don’t expect him to reproduce his numbers from 2016. (Of course, he was priority number one for most teams last year, and he pretty much just hurdled or stiff-armed everyone, so there’s that.) Given the amount of offensive weapons on the Nittany Lions, expect Barkley to top 1,000 yards (barring the i-word) rushing and catch at least 20-30 passes. Beyond that, we’ll have to watch and see what our favorite Whitehall Zephyr does in 2017.


For those interested, below are the results from the BSD staff's top 10 players vote. Each #1 vote received 10 points, a number two vote was other nine points, and so on.

1. Saquon Barkley (12)- 128

2. Trace McSorley (1) - 115

3. Mike Gesicki - 90

4. Marcus Allen - 89

5. Jason Cabinda - 73

6. Ryan Bates - 58

7. DaeSean Hamilton - 29

8. Connor McGovern - 26

9. Grant Haley - 24

10. Saeed Blacknall - 18

11. Shareef Miller - 16

12. Bendan Mahon - 12

13. Kevin Givens - 11

14. Curtis Cothran - 8

14. Blake Gillikin - 8

16. Manny Bowen - 5

17. Koa Farmer - 3

18. Lamont Wade - 2