Penn State Athletics
Saquon Barkley is primed for a big junior season.

Mulling pro stock of Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, Nyeem Wartman-White files suit, and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Friday, May 19. Let’s get started.

NFL is bullish on Saquon Barkley

A “high-level” NFL executive told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that Penn State’s Saquon Barkley potentially could be the best running back drafted in the last decade, if he does the expected and departs Happy Valley after the 2017 season.

Better than LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, who went fourth (to Jacksonville) and eighth (to Carolina) in the 2017 NFL Draft, respectively?

Better than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 1,631 yards and was named an All-Pro after Dallas used the fourth overall pick on him in 2016?

Better than Steelers do-it-all back Le’Veon Bell, a Michigan State product who somehow lasted until the 48th pick in 2013?

Barkley has that kind of potential.

He is not only a gifted runner but also a terrific receiver, which translates well to the pass-happy NFL. He is a willing blocker and tireless worker, and by all appearances a good teammate.

Nothing is guaranteed, of course. There is a long list of backs who have excelled at Penn State, only to flop in the NFL: D.J. Dozier, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis, Evan Royster, et al.

And if you analyze the list of backs drafted over the last 10 years, it is interesting to see how many top choices failed to make the grade.

Knowshon Moreno, taken 12th overall by Denver in 2009, was productive when healthy. He managed to avoid the injury bug in three of his six pro seasons. Moreno saw his career end when he tore his right ACL three games into the 2014 season.

The first back chosen in the five drafts from 2010-14 — C.J. Spiller (ninth overall, Buffalo), Mark Ingram (28th, New Orleans), Trent Richardson (third, Cleveland), Giovani Bernard (37th, Cincinnati) and Bishop Sankey (54th, Tennessee) — have two 1,000-yard seasons among them.

Meanwhile, some backs selected deeper in those drafts, such as Bell, DeMarco Murray (71st by Dallas, 2011), Doug Martin (31st by Tampa Bay, 2012) and Devonta Freeman (103rd by Atlanta, 2014), have developed into stars.

Todd Gurley, who went 10th to the Rams in 2015, excelled as a rookie but slipped last year.

Where Barkley fits remains to be seen, but he’ll likely start his pro career as a high-profile draft pick.

Nyeem Wartman-White files suit’s John Beauge, citing court records obtained by that outlet, reports that former Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White is seeking at least $1.5 million from an insurance company, claiming in a lawsuit that the company reneged on a disability policy after a knee injury ended his Penn State career and cost him a shot at the NFL.

Wartman-White saw his career cut short when he tore the ACL in his right knee three games into last season, against Temple. He also tore his left ACL in the 2015 opener against the Owls, costing him the rest of that season. He sprained a knee in 2012.

He was not selected in the NFL draft, but said at Penn State’s pro day in March that he hoped to latch on with a team before training camps open in July. That has yet to occur.

Beauge writes that according to the suit, Wartman-White purchased a policy in 2016 that would pay him $500,000 for loss of value and $1 million for permanent disability if he were injured and unable to play in the NFL.

Wartman-White claims the breach of contract was done maliciously, and that he is entitled to compensatory and punitive damages that amount to at least the benefits of the policy.

Women’s lax team hosts Princeton in NCAA quarterfinal

Penn State (16-3), making its third straight appearance in the NCAA lacrosse quarterfinals (fifth in six years), will lean on its experience and savvy when it hosts Princeton (15-3) on Sunday.

As senior captain Erika Spilker told the school’s website:

“We don’t get rattled. If one thing goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world, and that goes with the leadership. Because we’re all pretty confident in ourselves personally and each other, it helps with the composure because if one thing goes wrong, we’re going to learn from it and move forward.”

The Nittany Lions are led by senior Steph Lazo, who has 45 goals and 42 assists. She was named an IWLCA first-team All-American on Wednesday, the first Penn State player designated as such in 13 years. Junior Katie O’Donnell (58 goals, 6 assists) and sophomore Madison Carter (66, 11) were named second-teamers.

Princeton boasts a first-team All-American in Olivia Hompe. She has piled up a school-record 107 points this season, on 72 goals and 35 assists.

Also in the Land of 10