There are plenty of reasons to believe that Penn State’s offense won’t suffer too much from the loss of second overall NFL Draft pick Saquon Barkley. Trace McSorley is back and expected to be a dynamic playmaker once again, while Juwan Johnson has the chance to become of the Big Ten’s top receivers. Meanwhile, Barkley’s replacement at tailback, Miles Sanders, impressed in limited playing time last year and was once a five-star recruit.
Add in an improved offensive line, and it’s easy to imagine Penn State moving the ball up and down the field this fall. The toughest part will be the loss of Barkley’s huge plays. Perhaps his most valuable skill was the ability to turn an ordinary play into a touchdown, either as a rusher or a receiver. With Barkley in the professional ranks, opposing defenses won’t be quite as stressed against Penn State, especially in the passing game, where Barkley was impossible to match up with.
No matter what he does in the NFL, Barkley will be remembered fondly by Penn State fans the world over. In just three seasons, he racked up enough rushing yards to finish second on the school’s all-time leaderboard, while his 43 rushing touchdowns lead the pack. Barkley also leads all Nittany Lion tailbacks in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Too often great players are measured by how poorly their teams played without them. Let’s hope that’s not the case for Barkley. Only 26 days until Penn State beats Appalachian State!