Penn State keeps Saquon Barkley in bubble wrap for now, offers JUCO offensive lineman and more
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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Thursday, April 27. Let’s get started.
Far from a siesta for Saquon Barkley
Penn State did not expose standout running back Saquon Barkley to any contact during spring practice, which besides saving him from unnecessary wear and tear benefited him in other ways, in the minds of the coaches.
Coach James Franklin said after last weekend’s Blue-White Game that Barkley, who rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns and caught 28 balls for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2016, “took a bunch of reps” during spring drills, but didn’t do any live work. Nor did Barkley, who is on most Heisman Trophy watch lists, appear in last weekend’s scrimmage.
It was the same for PSU’s other established players, such as tight end Mike Gesicki, middle linebacker Jason Cabinda and safety Marcus Allen.
But as running backs coach Charles Huff said after the spring game, Barkley nonetheless learned some valuable lessons.
“The big thing for him is patience. When you’re good or you have a fast horse, it’s hard for him not to come out of the gates at the derby and go win it, but for him patience not only on the field, but off the field. Knowing that he was going to get limited reps and limited situations and making the most out of them.”
Huff went on to say that Barkley learned patience in another way, too – that by standing off to the side and watching a live period in practice he could see the value of letting his blocking develop before making a decisive cut.
Come September, Barkley will see plenty of work – and plenty of contact. But by saving him now, the coaches can only hope to reap the benefits later.
Filling in the blanks
Franklin and his staff have moved quickly to patch the holes left in their 2018 recruiting class by the decommitments of offensive tackle Chris Bleich and defensive end Micah Parsons over the weekend.
Besides getting commitments from two offensive tackles, Nana Asiedu and Antwan Reed, the Lions made an offer Wednesday to Jayson Oweh, a 3-star defensive end from Blairstown (N.J.) Academy, according to Lions247.
One day earlier, Lions247 reported that PSU made an offer to yet another offensive lineman, 6-9, 290-pound T.J. Bradley. Bradley attends Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton, Pa., that produced Lions offensive tackle Paris Palmer a few years ago and Bryant McKinnie, a tackle at Miami and in the NFL, several years before that.
Bradley graduates in December and would be a candidate for early enrollment. It’s an interesting offer, given the glut of O-linemen on Penn State’s roster.
A footnote about Asiedu: His coach at North Stafford (Va.) High School, Joe Mangano, told Greg Pickel of Pennlive.com that Asiedu only began playing football his sophomore year; before that he concentrated on basketball.
Asiedu, who carried 235 pounds on a 6-5 frame as a freshman, now goes 6-6 and about 260, Mangano told Pickel. And, the coach added:
“He was timed at a 4.85 40-yard dash last spring, so the thing with him is the ceiling. You look at him now, he’s not a prototypical offensive tackle, but the coaches all know that his ceiling is just tremendous.”
Approximately 100 ESPN staff members were laid off Wednesday, which did not escape Franklin’s notice:
Wishing those media members facing challenging times the very best. You have made our game better & will continue to do so! #WeAre
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) April 26, 2017