Through the first seven weeks of the season, junior running back Saquon Barkley has picked up where he left off from his dominating performance against USC in last year’s Rose Bowl.
Pegged with high praise coming into the season, Barkley, a preseason consensus All-American, hasn’t disappointed. He leads the nation in all-purpose yards per game (217) and has led the No. 2 Nittany Lions to a 6-0 record.
With the immense talent that Barkley possesses, there’s no denying his ability to bring Penn State its second-ever Heisman winner. The first being John Cappelletti back in 1973.
For a non-quarterback, winning the Heisman is no small feat. Only two running backs have taken home the coveted award since 2006. Mark Ingram won in 2009 followed by Derrick Henry in 2015.
So how does Saquon Barkley match up to the two most recent Heisman winning seasons from a running back?
Through 6 Games:
Mark Ingram (2009): 659 rush yards, 17 catches, 163 yards, 10 total TDs
Derrick Henry (2015): 665 rush yards, 10 Rush TDs, 7 catches, 51 yards
Saquon Barkley (2017): 649 rush yards, 29 catches, 395 yards, 10 total TDs
Derrick Henry (13 games):
2219 rush yards, 28 Rush TDs, 11 receptions, 91 yards (2310 all-purpose yards)
Mark Ingram (13 games):
1542 rush yards, 30 catches, 322 yards, 18 total TDs (1864 all-purpose yards)
Saquon Barkley’s Pace (13 games):
1406 rush yards, 63 catches, 856 yards, 22 total TDs (2821 all-purpose yards)
A more versatile player than Henry and Ingram, Barkley’s stats attest to his dominance in all facets of the football game. The Penn State running back has already eclipsed both Henry and Ingram’s full season receiving yardage totals and is four catches shy of besting them in that category as well.
Barkley also adds dynamic playmaking in the kick return game, fielding kickoffs regularly this season for the first time in his Penn State career. The do-it-all running back has made the most of his opportunities, averaging 30 yards per return so far, along with his first career touchdown on the opening kickoff return against Indiana.
Though Barkley has struggled to consistently generate headline-grabbing rushing numbers to open the season in comparison to other top running backs in college football, his improved receiving ability this year has more than made up for his good – but not spectacular – rushing statistics. Barkley is the only running back in the NCAA with over 600 rush yards and 200 receiving yards, proving to all defenses that, on any given play, whether it is pass or run, they need to account for #26.
A Heisman favorite through the first seven weeks of the season, Barkley will need to show his true place amongst the elite college players in the coming weeks, with three straight ranked Big Ten matchups (vs. No. 19 Michigan, at No. 6 Ohio State, at No.18 Michigan State).
In a year that has seen so many ups and downs from early season Heisman candidates, Barkley’s versatility has kept him near or at the top of everyone’s list of the best players in college football.
My Heisman Rankings Through Week 7
- Saquon Barkley RB Penn State (LW: 1): Bye
- Bryce Love RB Stanford (LW: 2) 147 yards, 2 TD
- Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma (LW: 3): 62.9 Comp. percentage, 302 yards, 2 TD 1 INT
- Mason Rudolph QB Okla St. (LW: 4): 61.29 Comp. percentage, 459 yards, 3 TD
Sam Darnold QB USC (LW: HM) 54 Comp. percentage, 358 yards, 3 TD
JT Barrett QB Ohio St. (LW: NR) 81.8 Comp. percentage, 325 pass yards, 5 TD, 48 rush yards, 2 TD