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Penn State's Saquon Barkley is Sports Illustrated's No. 1 'Freak' in college football

MARK WOGENRICH
(Allentown) Morning Call (TNS)
  • Penn State's Saquon Barkley is rated the No. 1 'Freak' in college football.
  • Barkley earned the recognition in a Sports Illustrated article by Bruce Feldman.
  • Barkley rushed for 1,496 yards last season with 18 touchdowns.

Sports Illustrated's Bruce Feldman has compiled a list of the top 40 'Freaks' in college football, those players capable of outrageous athletic feats.

The No. 1 player for 2017? Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

The Whitehall High graduate has been lighting up Penn State's weight room for two years, peaking recently with a power-clean of 405 pounds to set a school record. He also squatted 525 pounds, bench-pressed 405 and was hand-timed at 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley celebrates after scoring with tight end Mike Gesicki during the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Southern California Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. Barkley has been rated the No. 1 "Freak" in college football by Sports Illustrated.

All that after rushing for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and being named the Big Ten's offensive player of the year.

In the story, Penn State coach James Franklin compares Barkley to Redskins tight end Vernon Davis and recounts the story of Barkley giving his EPC track medal to a fellow competitor in 2015.

So what fuels Barkley? In an interview last winter, the running back didn't mention his 22 touchdowns or his 194-yard performance against USC in the Rose Bowl or the fact that he needs 1,361 yards to become Penn State's career-leading rusher.

Instead, Barkley remembered third-and-four in the fourth quarter against USC, a play on which he lost seven yards. He established that play as the driving focus of his offseason.

"To be the player you want to be, that's something you've got to do to take over that game, to end that game," he said.