Penn State will have a relatively new-look offense in 2016 with their brand new offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead and former quarterback Christian Hackenberg now a member of the New York Jets. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, their biggest offensive threat from last season is only a sophomore.
Saquon Barkley set Penn State’s single-season rushing record for a freshman last season as he galloped for 1,007 yards and added seven touchdowns. He took the job from Akeel Lynch after his Week 2 performance against Buffalo when he ran for 115 yards on 12 carries. What’s even more impressive is that Barkley missed three games due to injury.
Barkley has been mentioned in the same breath as other elite college football rushers such as LSU‘s Leonard Fournette, Florida State‘s Dalvin Cook and Georgia‘s Nick Chubb. He was named in the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook as an 80-1 favorite to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.
— Onward State (@OnwardState) May 25, 2016
The Nittany Lions should begin to improve with a new offense under Moorhead and a quarterback more suited for what James Franklin would like to do at Penn State. Trace McSorley is the likely starter for the season opener in September and he’ll develop much sooner if Barkley has a similar kind of season.
Barkley is certainly a dark horse candidate considering the team’s extensive offensive line woes in recent years, but 1,000-plus yards in essentially nine games last season (just one carry in the season opener at Temple) will put him in the conversation and have voters looking in his direction.