Penn State Nittany Lions' Saquon Barkley turns around to greet his teammates after scoring on a 92 yard touchdown run in the second quarter of the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 30 in Glendale, Ariz. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo
Penn State junior Saquon Barkley, expected to be a high first-round pick, announced Sunday night he will enter the 2018 NFL Draft.
"I hope I have left a lasting impression on this University, football program and community at large," Barkley wrote on his Instagram account.
"It has been an honor and privilege to be able to call Penn State home and represent the Blue & White and all of the great players who came before me and will follow after me. I will continue to work each and every day to continue to represent Penn State the right way as I move on to the next phase of my life."
NFLDraftScout.com rates Barkley as the No. 2 overall prospect behind USC junior quarterback Sam Darnold, who has not announced his intentions for the 2018 draft.
This season, Barkley (5-11, 230) ran 217 times for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns, including a 92-yarder in a Fiesta Bowl victory over Washington on Saturday night. The consensus 2017 All-American also caught 54 passes for 632 yards and two scores, as well as returning two kickoffs for touchdowns.
"Barkley offers a unique mix of power and athleticism with the explosive traits that make him dangerous any time the ball is in his hands. The great runners consistently gain more yardage than what is blocked for them and Barkley does that; however, his tendency to stop his feet in the backfield is a concern and could hold him back until improved. Drawing similarities to LaDainian Tomlinson, Barkley is a clean football player on and off the field and his versatility as a runner and receiver makes him an immediate weapon in the NFL."
He was fourth in this season's Heisman Trophy voting.
Other college players declaring early for the draft over the weekend include North Carolina linebacker Andre Smith, Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson and Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard.