I wrote this column a few days ago, and it published on Thursday. I’ve gotten some interesting feedback from it, and for as many good points that have been made on it, I tend to stick by my opinion.
So, I’ll throw it out there again:
I go into my reasons why I believe this in the column. But I’ve heard the arguments I’ve expected to hear in response to it.
“Oh, but Courtney Brown went No. 1 overall. So did Ki-Jana Carter.”
“Lavar Arrington was on the cover of Sports Illustrated!”
“There have been a lot of great NFL players from Penn State. Barkley needs to prove he can be that good.”
But, I think it’s important to note the difference between the phrases “best player” and “best prospect.” A prospect is a player who has potential to be great, a player who hasn’t reached the highest level of competition just yet, but who has the tools to excel once he gets there.
Sure, Carter went No. 1 overall in the 1995 Draft. But after his true sophomore season, was there anybody talking about him as a future top 5 pick? No. Maybe Arrington compares in that regard, but an argument could be made that to this point in their respective careers, Barkley has been an even more dominant player than Arrington was.
Barkley is also a workout warrior, a terrific kid off the field by all accounts and an unusually composed young man. Scouts are going to love his attitude and work ethic, unless something changes.
Point is, he clicks every box a scout has when he looks at what he wants in an ideal running back. Speed. Power. Toughness. Game-breaking ability. Proven success. Work ethic. All of it.
Not saying other Penn State prospects didn’t, and by no means am I saying he’ll wind up in Canton like Mike Munchak or Jack Ham or Franco Harris did. But he is going to bring a lot to the table. Maybe, more than any other Penn State player has.