Former Lake-Lehman running back Nick Eury looks for running room against Lakeland back in his high school days with Lake-Lehman. On Saturday night, he got his first chance to carry the ball for Penn State. STAFF PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER DOLAN
In the grand scheme of Penn State’s 56-0 thrashing of Georgia State in the nonconference finale, it’s a play and a handful of yards that might already be largely forgotten around Happy Valley. But for Nick Eury, they officially make him a Nittany Lion.
The redshirt freshman from Lake-Lehman got his first career carry in the fourth quarter of the Lions’ victory, and he’ll certainly hope it won’t be the last chance he gets to help his team on the field. But there’s a pretty cool story behind his first carry.
Saquon Barkley, it appears, pretty much demanded it happen.
Head coach James Franklin confirmed that much during his postgame press conference, saying Barkley was instrumental in Eury getting on the field.
Barkley, who had a dominant first half, smiled broadly when asked about that one carry for four yards after the game.
“That was awesome, Nick Eury getting into that game, seeing all those young guys get into the game,” Barkley said. “I know I’m not just speaking for myself here, but everybody on the team, every starter, you guys don’t know what those guys do for us during the week.
“On the scout team, they give us the looks that enable us to go out there and do what we’re doing. They might not be starting, but they’ve been with us since the offseason, winter workouts, spring ball. All the hard work we put in, they put in. You see them get in the game, it’s an exciting feeling.”
Penn State emptied its bench in the fourth quarter, giving more than a handful of young scholarship players and walk-ons like Eury the chance to see their first action.
Franklin said that’s something that not only helps the players, but improves the chemistry in the locker room.
“I talk about it not just from a player development perspective, but having a healthy locker room,” he said. “I preach it all the time, the importance of every single person in our program. It doesn’t matter what their role is; their role is critical to our success.