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Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, accorded several midseason awards, still has some big goals in mind, according to coach James Franklin.

Pondering where Penn State’s Saquon Barkley might be next season as midseason honors pile up

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Could Saquon Barkley return in 2018?

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, at the end of an entertaining profile, writes that Penn State star Saquon Barkley discussed his future with coach James Franklin before this season.

“I told Saquon … what I thought he should do (at the end of the year),” Franklin told Dodd.

Dodd writes that Franklin declined to provide specifics, but did drop some hints:

“Saquon, out of high school, had very clear goals and objectives what he wanted to do. He talked about the (weightlifting) record board, the Heisman Trophy, win a championship. There’s a part of him that doesn’t want to leave before he accomplishes those things.”

Say what?

John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times has a Q-and-A with former Penn State linebacker Nate Stupar, now with the New Orleans Saints, who agrees that Barkley is going to be “an elite running back” in the NFL, but struggled to find an apt comparison. “You can probably say he’s a little bit like [Saints back Alvin Kamara], but I think AK is a little faster,” Stupar told McGonigal.

Other Saquon Barkley odds & ends

Barkley, named to The Sporting News’ midseason All-America team on Monday, was accorded similar honors by USA Today, Sports on Earth and The Associated Press on Tuesday (as pointed out by Pennlive.com). Teammate Grant Haley was named to the first two of those teams. Tom Dienhart of BTN.com also named Barkley the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Half-Year.

Considering the coaches’ future

During his regular weekly news conference Tuesday, Franklin quashed speculation that he might be interested in fleeing to Texas A&M, as noted by Wayne Staats of Land of 10. But David Jones of Pennlive.com believes the No. 2 Nittany Lions’ next two games, at home against Michigan on Saturday night and at Ohio State next Saturday, could have some bearing on the future marketability not only of the head coach but offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Jones’ thinking was that if Moorhead can figure out a way to solve either or both of those defenses, he can punch his ticket after the season – and that he might even emerge as the favorite to replace Brian Kelly at Notre Dame.

It’s all on the line

Joe Juliano of Philly.com also writes about the Michigan defense, which has allowed just 223.8 yards a game this season, fewest in the FBS – and has done so despite replacing 10 starters from last year’s team. That means the heat is on Penn State’s beleaguered offensive line, which has given up 9 sacks in its last two games while freeing Barkley up for just 131 yards. As Franklin said in his presser, “The way they play defensive football, we’re going to have some challenges — there’s no doubt about it. That’s where the mobility of the quarterback position is important. That’s where staying patient in the run game is important. That’s where getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand is important.”

Denis Smirnov honored

According to the university’s official website, Denis Smirnov, a sophomore forward on the hockey team, was named the Big Ten’s Second Star of the Week after scoring a goal in each of the games at Minnesota last weekend, as the Nittany Lions earned a split. Smirnov’s goal in the 3-1 victory Friday was the game-winner. He added an assist in that one as well.

Milestone for Simone Lee

Simone Lee, a senior outside hitter on Penn State’s top-ranked women’s volleyball team, recently recorded the 1,000th kill of her career. While she relishes the milestone, she told the Big Ten Network’s Ngozi Ekeledo in the video tweeted out below, she said she and her teammates “want to keep pushing. … We want to win that national championship.”

Also in the Land of 10

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