football Edit

Saquon Barkley Stresses Value of Hard Work at Weekend Camp

Saquon Barkley was back where it all began Saturday, running around Holuba Hall on Penn State's campus.

His appearance took on a completely different form from that of his years as a Nittany Lion from 2014-2017. Namely, that was because this time, Barkley was the one calling the shots.

Leading his first instructional camp for boys and girls in grades 1-8, Barkley guided roughly 600 kids through a three-hour session, to be wrapped up Sunday morning with a second session.

"It's crazy. Coming here, playing here, this is where I practiced for three years of my life. Seeing myself go from a little kid to a man here in winter workouts at 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning with Coach Franklin and Coach Huff yelling in my face," said Barkley. "So it's just funny to be able to come back and give back and be able to coach these kids, but then also see the former players now.

"Other former players like (Nate) Stupar and those guys coming here. But also current players now doing a great job of playing with the kids and showing the kids the ways and the ropes of football. So to be able to come back, it means everything to me."

Stressing that Penn State is still home for him, this being his third appearance back in Happy Valley this spring, including the Nittany Lions' Pro Day and Blue-White Game in March and April, respectively, Barkley updated that he's still two classes away from earning his degree, which he plans to complete in the fall.

The repeated appearances have allowed Barkley to remain in close contact with his former teammates and coaches, too, of which he has relayed the importance of his own experience as a Nittany Lion. Helping to guide some of those former teammates along, Barkley said he's impressed upon them how he's reached the heights he currently enjoys.

"When you come here, this is where it all started. It started at Whitehall, but this is where I feel like I shaped myself into becoming the player that I am today. And I joke around about winter workouts and being here at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning or spring ball or camp, those are the things that helped shape me," said Barkley. "And obviously just in general, being a Penn State athlete and having the four core values, competing and sacrificing, taking that stuff to lead to the NFL, it's the reason why I've been successful.

"I try to tell these guys here, enjoy it, live in the moment because it's going to fly by and you're going to be wishing you were back in college. You're going to miss college even when you're in the NFL having success. It's not the same, the brotherhood is not the same. But coming back here, it just takes you back to your past."

Having seen his own face on the walls of the Lasch Building, a representative of his All-Big Ten and All-American status as a Nittany Lion, Barkley brought those same messages to the young boys and girls on hand for his camp session Saturday. Through consistent hard work, he said, any of the kids at his camp could make their own unique name for themselves.

"Hard work. It's something that I keep saying, I sound like a broken record. Hard work, because that's how I got where I got in my life," said Barkley. "Hearing kids saying oh, you're my idol, I want to be like you. And I just tell them 'No, never try to be like someone. Be better than me.'

"Don't try to be the next someone, be the next you. You can do whatever you want in life as long as you put your mind to it and you work for it, anything is possible."