Saquon Barkley Returns Home to Happy Valley to Host Youth Camp

By Jarrod Prugar on May 20, 2019 at 9:17 am
Saquon Barkley with a few campers on Saturday
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For three years the Penn State community watched in awe as Saquon Barkley dominated on the field for the blue and white. 

On Saturday, it was Saquon's turn to give back as he returned to Happy Valley to run his first ever ProCamp as nearly 600 attendees packed Holuba Hall to learn from the 2018 NFL Rookie of the Year.

"It feels really good to be back," Barkley said. "It's cool and awesome to be able hold your camp here and give back to the youth and have a good time."

Following the first day of camp which included current and former Penn State players leading athletes in drills and games, Barkley met with the media to talk about a variety of topics ranging from the his message to campers, his new division foe/former teammate Miles Sanders, to fatherhood. 

On Giving Back

"I think this is the best way to do it because you get to interact with them and what better way to do it than it being like gym class. You go out here run around, have fun, catch a couple footballs, teach them and they get to spend some quality time with you and get to know you."

"It's crazy. Playing here, this is where I practiced for three years of my life. I watched myself grow from a little kid to a man here in winter workouts at 4, 5 o'clock in the morning with coach (James) Franklin and coach (Charles) Huff yelling in my face. It's just funny to be able to come back here and give back and coach these kids. Seeing the current players and former players coming in and doing a great job with the kids, showing them the ways and the ropes of football. To be able to come back in means everything to me."

On his message to campers

"Hard work. That's something I keep saying and I sound like a broken record. Hard work because how I got to where I got in my life. I hear kids say 'you're my idol, I wanna 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 work for it, anything's possible." 

On coming back to Penn State regularly

"It's home for me. I got three places I can call home right now and I know every time I come here there are people who genuinely care about me that knew me before I was Saquon. I know I'm able to come back home to family and that's why I love coming back. I love coming back and seeing the guys, my former teammates and seeing the guys now who are going to take on the ropes and who's going to replace the Trace (McSorley), the  Miles Sanders and all those guys. Im happy and excited and like I said I love coming back and showing support."

On Miles Sanders

"I'm more happy for what he accomplished, what he's been through being a five star and having to sit back and wait for his spot and his moment. When he got his moment he took advantage of it and to be the second running back taken in the draft, and in my opinion the best running back in the draft, I think he's going to prove that to the league this year. I'm really excited for him. 

At the end of the day we still got love but when we see each other those two times we're going to try and compete. I'm going to try to have a better game than him and he's going to try to have a better game than me."

"During college, my rookie year I knew he was considering coming out before anyone else did. The advice I gave him was when you come here don't lose your work ethic, don't lose your drive. It does become a business but you don't have to become part of the business. At the end of the day, if you still have the same love you had as a kid at eight years old or however old these kids are, everything will take care of itself. That's the thing I'm a big believer in, and that's the message I gave him."

On his time at Penn State

"I stay pretty grounded just by myself. I live in the moment. I don't get too caught up in the hype, always look to improve. When you come here, this is where it all started. It started in Whitehall, but I feel like this is where I shaped myself into the player I am today. I joke around with the winter workouts and being here at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, spring ball or camp, those are things that helped shape me. Understanding the four core values, understanding compete and sacrifice and taking that stuff with me to the NFL is 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 miss college even when you're in the NFL having a lot of success. It's not the same. The brotherhood is not the same. Coming back here it just takes you back to the past. You get to walk down the wall, I see my face on the wall. Those are goals I wanted to set when I was a freshman. I wanted to get on the All-American wall, I wanted to get on the Big Ten wall. To be able to accomplish that and now it's in the past and I can reflect on that, it means the world to me."

On proving people wrong

"I wasn't trying to prove anybody right or wrong. That's how it is, when you're in college everyone's gonna want to see if you can do it at the next level. Zion Williams is one of the best athletes to ever play and people are questioning whether he'll be able to play in the NBA. I don't really have anything to do with proving people right or wrong. My main thing is proving to my team that you made the right pick not only with talent but a guy with great character and is a great leader."

On fatherhood

"Fatherhood's been treating me good. You learn and you grow everyday. As I continue to grow and try to become a better player, I have to continue to grow and become a better father. It's crazy to see my little girl grow up so fast, she's already a year. It puts everything into perspective how quick that year went by playing football, rookie of the year, but at the same time being a father seeing my daughter grow from being not being able to crawl to crawl to be able to walk to be able to say dada, to be able to say mama. All those little things you cherish and you cherish all those moments and I think that's a big reason why I have the mindset I have now, it's all thanks to my daughter."