Penn State is Linebacker U, no doubt about it. PSU Linebackers
But, they have also had a lot of great Running Backs over the years.
Back in the day, they had Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris in the same backfield. Both of these guys are in the College Football Hall of Fame, but Franco Harris is also in the Pro Football Hall of fame and was a member of 4 Super Bowl championship teams with Pittsburgh.
After those stars, they had John Cappelletti who was Penn State’s only Heisman Trophy winner.
Curt Warner followed, and was one of the top Penn State Running Backs, but DJ Dozier, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis and Larry Johnson might disagree.
Over the years Joe Paterno loved the running game and he had more than his fair share of top Running Backs.
But, it’s been a while since the Penn State Nittany Lions have had a really good Running Back.
The last one was probably Tony Hunt, but he was gone in 2006.
It’s been a long dry spell since 2006.
Silas Redd was on his way to being that back when the scandal hit and he transferred to USC to finish his college career. Redd ran for 1,241 yards in 2011.
Zach Zwinak ran for exactly 1,000 yards in 2012, but he was a Fullback playing Tailback because of the departure of Silas Redd.
But, that Running Back drought at Penn State might finally be over.
Enter Saquon Barkley a 5-11, 220 Running Back from the tiny community of Coplay, Pennsylvania. Barkley was one of the better Running Back recruits in the 2015 class and he signed with Penn State. He ran for over 1,800 yards as a senior with 31 Touchdowns to gain first team All State honors.
In the Penn State Nittany Lion’s opening game against Temple, Barkley only had 1 carry which totaled 1 yard. But, he exploded for 115 yards on 12 carries against Buffalo of the MAC. The following game, Barkley put on a show running for 195 yards against Big 10 opponent Rutgers.
Against San Diego State, Barkley had 62 yards rushing in the second quarter when he went down with an injury.
He missed the following two games against Army and Indiana, but came back the following week against defending national champion Ohio State and impressed the nation with 194 yards rushing before a national television audience.
Maryland held Barkley in check last week limiting him to 65 yards. After 10 games, the Nittany Lions are 7-3 and Barkley has 836 yards rushing even after missing 2 1/2 games.
The Lions have two season games left with Michigan and Michigan State which are two solid defenses. Then, the Nittany Lions will have a bowl game, and they will have another 1,000 yard rusher for the first time in a few years. Without earlier injuries, Saquon Barkley would have already crushed the 1,000 yard barrier.
Penn State’s last NFL 1st round draft pick at Running Back was Larry Johnson back in 2003. I am not guaranteeing that Saquon Barkley will be their next 1st round pick at that position, but he certainly has the potential.