One of college football's biggest stars is taking an expected jump to the next level. In an Instagram post on New Year's Eve, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley announced he was foregoing his final season of eligibility declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. The announcement comes one day after the Nittany Lions secured an 11-2 season by beating Washington in the Fiesta Bowl 35-28.
Barkley, an early-season Heisman Trophy favorite, finished the 2017 campaignwith 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns, including 137 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl victory. He finished second in the nation behind San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny in all-purpose yards per game (179.2) and ended his touted career with three straight 1,000-yard rushing efforts.
Those numbers speak for themselves on the surface, but they're especially impressive considering every defense turned their efforts to stopping him. However, former Nittany Lions offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead -- now the coach at Mississippi State -- found creative ways to get Barkley the ball in the passing game. Barkley had a career-high 54 receptions in 2017 with 23 of those catches coming in the first quarter.
With his blend of size, speed, vision, balance, power and versatility, Barkley is considered one of the top running backs eligible -- if not the top back -- for this spring's draft.