Well friends, the inevitable came to fruition while we were all still basking in the glow as Fiesta Bowl Champs. Late Sunday afternoon, Saquon Barkley also known as ‘Sa Sa’ to some, ‘Say Gone’ to others, and ‘Superhuman’ to many, announced his intent to move on to the NFL. It was not unexpected, even if we spent the past year or so in denial wishing he’d never go.
In a long thank you letter to us, he put his mother above all, promised to buy her a house as his first priority and reaffirmed the opportunity to do so as a dream come true. Who can fault him for that? You simply cannot. As fans and admirers of his massive talent, there is no other choice but to wish him the best and add room in your hearts for another cheering section, no matter who gets the pleasure of adding his services to the gridiron and locker room.
Year in and year out, especially over the past five years or so, the end-of-season farewells have been reserved mostly for the seniors who stuck with us. It was an honor on our part to recognize them. This year’s seniors are no different and will forever hold a special place in our hearts for what they meant to this program. But, Saquon Barkley is a once in a lifetime talent that had as big a hand as any in bringing Penn State back into the national conversation.
His exploits on the football field are legendary and ones we won’t soon forget, but his smile and integrity in front of the camera, as we scratched and clawed our way back up the ladder, are truly what separates him from the rest. We never saw him complain, we never saw him point fingers after a slow day, and we never saw him lose his poise as defenses came crashing down around him. He always made it a priority to thank his teammates and coaches and put the blame on himself if things didn’t go quite as planned. With that in mind, I have a few words on behalf of all of us, as the man I affectionately coined King ‘Quon over the past two seasons, moves on:
Thank you for the lesson in humility. As the rest of us griped and moaned over a missed play here or a missed call there, you remained a rock of stoicism. We are all better for watching and learning from you.
Dear Saquon, thank you for the leaps, the hurdles, the stutter steps, the stops on a dime, the beauty of the wheel-route that you ran so well, and for the way you turned on the jets the moment you hit the next level. The highlights are those unrivaled by very few.
Dear Saquon, thank you for making an otherwise dull off-season fun for the past three years with your abnormal feats in the weight room. Others have heard the gossip and will soon see it for themselves at this spring’s NFL Combine, but we had the pleasure of seeing it firsthand with our own eyes.
Above all else, thank you for choosing us when we needed you most. No one can ever say for sure where we would be today without you, but it’s safe to say we’re better off because of you. Players come, players go, and records are eventually broken, but you made it cool to like Penn State again when a large majority were told it wasn’t. For that, we will forever be grateful as Nittany Nation tags along with you in all your future endeavors. Best of luck in everything you do and remember, you will always have a home away from home in Happy Valley.