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Saquon Barkley wins offensive ROTY

Photo By: gettyimages.com

2-12-2019

Evan Ferguson, Sports Editor

Penn State alum Saquon Barkley was a human life raft for the struggling New York football Giants this past season and was awarded with the offensive Rookie of the Year and Pepsi Rookie of the Year to honor that last week.

Barkley was selected at #2 in the 2018 NFL Draft and certainly lived up to the hype of that pick, to go along with the praise of his previous coaching staff at Penn State, college football analysts, and just about every human being that watched him terrorize defenses in his years at Penn State. He racked up 1,307 rushing yards (second in the NFL) with 11 touchdowns on 261 carries along with hauling in a jaw dropping 91 catches (tying Odell Beckham Jr. with the most receptions for a Giants rookie) for 721 yards receiving as a running back. Barkley was a human highlight reel in 2018, running straight through defenders (literally), hurdling them, stiff-arming them, anything he had to do to gain extra yards. He finished with 2,028 total yards from scrimmage, most in the NFL and it couldn’t have been any clearer, Barkley was arguably the most important player for his team, over anyone else.

His unique physical abilities and highlight reel plays helped compensate, literally and figuratively for the poor blocking by the Giants offensive linemen that struggled all year providing gaps for Barkley and a clean pocket for their quarterback, Eli Manning. An offensive line that struggled so much, it saw one of it’s starting tackles benched in week 3. Barkley’s 352 touches were second among all players in the NFL in 2018, underscoring his importance to the team, that saw Manning overcome early issues of his own to post a respectable 92.4 passer rating. Because of Barkley’s productive runs causing the opposing defense to expect run in most instances, it opened the passing game for Manning to throw the ball.

Barkley’s scrimmage yard total ranked 3rd most for a rookie in NFL history behind hall of famers Eric Dickerson (2,212) and Edgerrin James (2,139) in the category. He also caught more passes as a rookie running back than anyone else in history (91), besting Reggie Bush’s mark of 88 as a rookie for the New Orleans Saints. His 1,307 rushing yards and 721 receiving yards makes him only one of two running backs in NFL history to record over 1,300 rushing yards and 700+ receiving yards, the other being Carolina Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey.

Barkley beat out Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield for the honor. Barkley amassed 26.5 votes compared to the 21.5 votes. Mayfield also finished second to Barkley in the voting of the Pepsi Rookie of the Year fan voting in an announcement made earlier in the week, even after the rookie quarterback threw for a rookie record 27 touchdowns in just 13 ½ games with the Browns. If these awards Barkley has already received to begin his professional career gives fans any indication, who knows what awards he will win next year.