It may sound farfetched on the surface. Yet, had Penn State’s spring training camp gone on as scheduled, it appears New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley would have traded-in his helmet and pads for a clipboard and whistle, at least for the offseason.
New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy has reported that Barkley was in talks with Penn St. head coach James Franklin to join his alma mater’s coaching staff for offseason workouts prior to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Franklin has since confirmed the discussions with Dunleavy:
Saquon reached out to me and his plan was to come and spend spring ball with us as a coach. He wanted to sit in all of the coaches meetings to see how we came up with the game plan, how we watch film and all the things we discuss.
He wanted to be able to learn football and view it through a different lens because he thought that would help his growth, and he’d be able to go back and have a bigger impact with the Giants. He could see how coaches assess things and why.
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Franklin Unsurprised by Barkley’s Interest in Coaching
Two seasons into his pro career, two 1,000-yard campaigns under his belt, and Barkley has cemented himself as one of, if not the league’s most talented football players. However, as Franklin noted, Barkley is always looking to grow and learn, which is why he was not the least bit surprised Barkley reached out about joining the Nittany Lions’ staff.
He is very curious about a lot of different things. Throughout Saquon’s college experience and afterwards, he is very observant. He is asking a lot of questions. Whenever your best player is also your strongest culture-driver behind the scenes, it’s a recipe for success.
Coach Barkley Would Have Done Wonders for Recruiting
Barkley is arguably the school’s most notable modern-day alumn, having dominated on the gridiron during his three-year run manning the backfield for Penn St. The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2016, 2017) totaled 51 touchdowns and eclipsed 5,000 yards from scrimmage over his Nittany Lions career.
Penn State’s camp was originally scheduled to run from March 18th through April 18th, prior to cancelation due to the pandemic. A scenario that is extremely disappointing for not only Barkley, but the school, as Franklin pointed out.
He could’ve worked out in our facility, and it would’ve been great for our program and our players to be around him. He wanted to really attack and approach football from a different perspective thinking that would help him be a better player but also have a bigger leadership impact with the Giants.
Having a player of Barkley’s stature and pop culture appeal roaming the sidelines on a daily basis, even for a compressed time, would have been a gamechanger for the recruiting game. However, the school shouldn’t be too worried about the missed opportunity. The likelihood of Barkley taking his talents to the coaching ranks appears to be less of an “if” scenario and more of a when.
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