Land of 10/file photo
One of the biggest questions for Penn State now is who will replace Saquon Barkley at running back.

What’s next for Penn State football? Saquon Barkley draft speculation begins

Penn State football is the No. 1 topic in We are… Awake every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across Nittany Lions sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Penn State football, recruiting, basketball and more.

What’s next?

In the last two seasons, Penn State has won a Big Ten title and secured spots in the Rose and Fiesta Bowls to cap those seasons.

So what does coach James Franklin do next?

Joe Juliano of Philly.com writes that the Nittany Lions have plenty left to accomplish. And one of the key pieces to the 2018 season will be the return of quarterback Trace McSorley.

The obvious question will be who replaces running back Saquon Barkley, who declared for the NFL draft on Sunday. Jack R. Hirsh of The Daily Collegian writes that the Nittany Lions got a first hand look at Miles Sanders against Washington.

However, incoming freshman Ricky Slade has his sights set on being the feature back that takes the torch from Barkley, writes Land of 10’s Tyler Donohue.

The next level

Micah Parsons will participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Saturday, but his sights are set directly on helping Penn State break through and get into the College Football Playoff as a freshman.

Parsons told Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports that he can jump in right away at middle linebacker if that’s what defensive coordinator Brent Pry and Franklin opt to do with him.

The next stop

A lot will be written between now and the April 26 NFL draft when Saquon Barkley is expected to be one of the first two or three players picked.

So why not start the speculation about where Barkley could go now?

John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times caught up with ESPN draft analyst Steve Meunch, who says they have Barkley as the top running back available, but the second overall prospect behind UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

Barkley told ESPN’s College Gameday at the Rose Bowl on Monday why he feels he should be the No. 1 overall pick, writes Pennlive’s Greg Pickel.

Matt Glenesk of the Indianapolis Star wonders if the Colts will look at Barkley with the No. 3 pick (if he is available), or will they go elsewhere to help improve a team that finished 4-12, just fired coach Chuck Pagano and has an uncertain future with injured quarterback Andrew Luck.

Mark Podolski of the Lake County News-Herald says that even if Barkley is available with the No. 4 pick, the Cleveland Browns would be taking a risk drafting him.

Meanwhile Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call takes a look back at the best from Barkley in a Penn State uniform.

Practice makes perfect

A lot of teams can struggle offensively after a long lay off, teams can lack a certain precision in areas like special teams in the weeks leading up to a bowl game.

Not Penn State.

As Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record writes, practice and repetition makes all the difference for the Nittany Lions.