Wally Triplett, one of the first African-American men to be drafted and play for an NFL team as well as the first African-American starter at Penn State, died Thursday at age 92.
Triplett was taken in the 19th round of the 1949 draft by the Detroit Lions as a running back and returner — one of three African-American players to be taken in that year’s NFL draft. Of those three, he was the first to appear in a game.
In a 2015 story on MLive.com, Triplett described what it’s like watching the NFL draft now after becoming one of the first African-American players to be drafted almost 70 years ago.
“When I look at this thing they call the [NFL] draft now, I laugh at it with tears because to be drafted now means you’re automatically in a group with people that are going to get paid for doing nothing,” Triplett told MLive in 2015. “You’re going to get paid before [you] play, and so you get some degree of assurance right away as opposed to, when we were drafted, you were just put on a list.
“If you make it, you make it. If you don’t, you don’t.”
The 5-foot-11, 173-pound Triplett spent two years with the Lions and two years with the Chicago Cardinals, appearing in 24 games with 70 rushes for 321 yards and one touchdown along with catching 17 passes for 175 yards. He started nine games in his career, all for the Lions.
He also had 34 career punt returns for 401 yards and a touchdown and 18 kick returns for 664 yards and a touchdown.
On Oct. 29, 1950, Triplett set a then-NFL record with 294 yards on four kick returns, including a 97-yard touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. The record stood for 44 years before being broken in 1994 and remains the third-highest mark in league history.
He averaged 73.5 yards per return that day — still an NFL record.
“Wally is one of the true trailblazers in American sports history,” the Lions said in a statement released Thursday announcing his death. “He resides among the great men who helped reshape the game as they faced the challenges of segregation and discrimination. His contributions date back to his days at Penn State as the Nittany Lions’ first African-American starter and varsity letter-winner, highlighted by his appearance in the first integrated Cotton Bowl.”
While at Penn State, he was part of the team that helped bring the “WE ARE,” chant to the university as part of how they overcame racial discrimination. He was one of two African-American players to play for Penn State in the Cotton Bowl against SMU in 1948.
In a 2009 story in the Centre Daily Times, Triplett recalled SMU wanting to meet with Penn State about not playing Triplett and Dennie Hoggard. One of their teammates, guard Steve Suhey, said they wouldn’t even take the meeting.
“We are Penn State,” Triplett remembered Suhey saying, according to the Centre Daily Times. “There will be no meetings.”
Triplett was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame earlier this year. In his time at Penn State he had a career punt-return average of 16.5 yards and has the fourth-longest punt return in school history, at 85 yards.
His two years with the Lions and two years with the Cardinals bracketed two years of service in the Korean War with the 594th Field Artillery Battalion.
Triplett was born in La Mott, Pennsylvania on April 18, 1926 and played football, basketball and baseball at Cheltenham High School. He is survived by three children, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
NAPA, Calif. — The day after agreeing to a restructured contract, three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn was activated from the physically unable to perform list and moved to a new position with the Oakland Raiders — right tackle.
The move could also portend first-round draft pick Kolton Miller winning the starting left tackle job.
“They talked to me about it, about trying it out, seeing what it would do, seeing how I would feel over there and I told them, ‘I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win, and if you guys feel that’s going to be in the best interest of the team, I’ll do it,'” Penn said Tuesday, following his first training camp practice.
“Today felt kind of awkward and rusty, but I need time to develop. I don’t know if that’s going to be a permanent thing or not yet, but it is something we’re testing out and I told them I’m all for it. We’ve got a young kid over there [Miller] that’s doing a lot of good things.”
Penn, who received a two-year, $21 million extension after a 26-day holdout last year, reportedly took a small pay cut this year to get some guaranteed money next season.
Per ESPN Stats & Information, Penn was due base salaries of $6 million in each of the next two seasons, with a guaranteed $3 million this season and a $300,000 workout bonus based on six weigh-ins, with $50,000 per weigh-in.
And under the parameters of said contract, he was due a $1 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year in 2019 and the remaining $5 million of his salary became fully guaranteed if he had 75 percent playing time in 2018.
Penn, who had been rehabbing from Lisfranc surgery on his right foot in December that ended his consecutive starts streak at 170, said the Raiders mentioned the possibility of a position switch to him during “negotiations with the contract stuff” over the past week.
“And then this morning, they told me that they wanted me to try it out today and see how it goes,” Penn said. “I told them I was going to give my best effort and go out there and try to be Donald Penn over there.”
Per Pro Football Focus, Penn played 24 snaps at right tackle that day and in 18 pass-block snaps there, he did not allow a quarterback pressure.
“It was tough,” Penn said. “I’m glad we won. I was out there battling, holding on for dear life. It was tough.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said it was strange seeing the protector of his blind side now lined up in front of him.
“It was a little different, but that’s why you have good players,” Carr said Tuesday. “That’s why you add good players to your team, so when things happen you can put guys in different spots.”
Penn, 35, said he had been studying new coach Jon Gruden’s playbook while rehabbing, but all as a left tackle. And during practice, Penn found himself lining up next to left guard Kelechi Osemele and also lined up at right tackle in his left-hand stance.
“We’ve got a good thing going here,” Penn said. “I just want to help us win. I’m not playing too much longer. I just want to win, really. So if this is going to help us win, I’m all in for it.
“Kolton, me and Kolton, we’re developing a good friendship. I want to have him ready so when he goes out there he can succeed. It’s not like I’m over here, like jealous or mad. I’m trying to help the kid out so the kid can be as good as possible because it’s going to help us out as a team.”
NAPA, Calif. — Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn has agreed to a restructured contract with the Oakland Raiders, according to numerous reports, after the team requested a pay cut less than a year after giving him a two-year, $21 million extension.
Per the NFL Network, it is a “small pay cut,” while the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Penn will “receive more guaranteed money over the final two years in exchange for accepting new, team-friendly parameters.”
Penn, 35, is on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing Lisfranc surgery on his right foot in December. Under his previous contract, Penn carried a salary cap number of $8.38 million for 2018 and was due base salaries of $6 million in each of the next two seasons. Per ESPN Stats & Information research, Penn was guaranteed $3 million this season with a $300,000 workout bonus based on six weigh-ins, with $50,000 per weigh-in.
Under the parameters of that contract, he was due a $1 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year in 2019 and his salary became fully guaranteed if he had 75 percent playtime in 2018.
With Penn unable to practice — coach Jon Gruden said Monday that Penn’s health was an “ongoing process” — first-round draft pick Kolton Miller has been starting at left tackle. Penn was giving Miller sideline advice during the Raiders’ exhibition opener against the Detroit Lions on Friday.
NAPA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders want Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn to take a pay cut, a year after he held out for and received a raise and contract extension from the team.
Penn, who is currently on the physically unable to perform list as he continues his rehab from Lisfranc surgery on his right foot, told reporters on Wednesday that he could not elaborate. He cited team policy that injured players are off limits to the media before saying, “You’ll have to ask them. You’ll find out before they tell me.”
Last summer, after taking part in the offseason training program, Penn held out of training camp and the exhibition season for 26 days. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said at the time that he would not negotiate with a player not in camp.
Penn returned and received his two-year, $21 million extension in between Weeks 1 and 2 of the regular season. His string of 170 straight regular-season starts, a stretch that dated back to 2007, came to an end in Week 16 when he suffered the foot injury against the Dallas Cowboys.
There is no sense yet that Penn might be cut if he does not agree to the pay cut — he carries a salary-cap number of more than $8.38 million this season — though it was obvious he was not happy the story was “leaked” to the media.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported the development.
Penn, 35, is due base salaries of $6 million in each of the next two seasons but, according to ESPN Stats & Information, $3 million is fully guaranteed for 2018, with a roster bonus of $109,375 per game on the 46-man active roster. He can also get a $300,000 workout bonus based on six weigh-ins, with $50,000 per weigh-in.
The Raiders used their first-round pick this spring on UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller, drafting him 15th overall, and he has been the starter all offseason with Penn on the mend.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden was asked Wednesday if he expected to see Penn off the PUP list and on the practice field soon.
“He’s getting close,” Gruden said. “H. Rod Martin, our trainer, is pleased with the progress that he’s made. Hopefully that time is soon.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland Raiders left tackle Donald Penn will not face charges after being a suspect in a domestic violence case, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
“We did a review and ultimately decided there was insufficient evidence to result in a conviction,” spokesperson Frank Mateljan told ESPN.com.
A radio call went out on April 29 at 9 p.m. and officers responded to Penn’s Los Angeles-area home after he allegedly slapped his wife’s buttocks, grabbed her wrist and poured a drink over her head. Penn, 35, had left the scene by the time police arrived to take a report.
A day later, Penn and his wife, Dominique, issued a joint statement to TMZ through their representative, Denise White, denying any physical altercation had taken place.
“There was a verbal disagreement, there was NO physical altercation,” the statement said. “The two are in the middle of a divorce and it is a hard time for both parties.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis has said that he has “zero tolerance” for domestic violence. In the wake of the late-April incident, Davis told ESPN.com he had spoken with Penn, who told the team owner he stood by the joint statement that no physical violence had taken place.
“If, in fact, there was physical violence, then I would have to take appropriate action,” Davis said at the time.
Penn is recovering from Lisfranc surgery to his right foot after being injured in Week 15 last season. He signed a two-year, $21 million contract extension after holding out during training camp last summer. The injury ended Penn’s streak of consecutive NFL starts at 170 games.
Penn, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, tweeted “MORE MOTIVATION” after the Raiders drafted UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller in the first round, No. 15 overall. Penn later deleted the tweet.
Who will be the next Baker Mayfield? Who will be the explosive playmaker to spin defenses in circles or the next pass-rusher to wreak havoc on quarterbacks? There are dozens of players who could emerge in the coming season. To help you draftniks get acquainted with a few of them, we’ve picked out 10 stars for the coming season who have football doppelgangers (or at least pretty darn close comparisons) who were high-profile selections in this year’s NFL draft.
The next undersized flamethrower eager to prove the world wrong resides in Happy Valley. Most colleges that recruited McSorley wanted him to play safety because of his size (Penn State lists him generously at 6-foot), but he was tall enough to throw 57 touchdown passes in the past two seasons while leading a resurgent Nittany Lions offense.
The doubters this coming season will ask whether McSorley can be as productive without Saquon Barkley next to him in the backfield or offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead (who became the head coach at Mississippi State) calling plays on the sideline. McSorley may not have the same fiery off-field personality as Mayfield, but on Saturdays he’s a versatile playmaker who plays with an attitude.
Neither Herbert nor Darnold are going to make scouts drool with any particular physical tool, but both may turn out to be the most well-rounded, prototypically sized quarterback prospects in their respective classes (the 6-foot-6 Herbert has a couple of inches on Darnold). Herbert, like Darnold, was a three-sport athlete in high school. They have nearly identical completion percentages in college. Herbert hasn’t yet suffered the same turnover troubles that Darnold encountered at USC, but he hasn’t had the chance to play a full season yet at Oregon.
Grier could post some gaudy numbers in his final season as a Mountaineer. He passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns a season ago in 10 complete games. He’ll have his top target back in wide receiver David Sills. That duo — much like Rudolph and former Cowboys wideout James Washington — are likely to be the Big 12’s most dangerous big-play threat this coming fall. Rudolph throws the deep ball particularly well, connecting on 17 passes of 50 or more yards last season. Grier threw for 50-plus yards on a play 12 times last year, and that number could grow in his senior season.
Barkley’s explosive power made him hard to bring to the ground and gave Penn State plenty of options on how to deploy him against Big Ten defenses. Out on the West Coast, Love was running through and around Pac-12 defenses at an even more productive pace. Barkley may have a few pounds on Love, but both run with a tenacity that inevitably leads to big plays and jaw-dropping highlight reels.
Gaskin is a smart, low-to-the-ground back who led the Huskies with 24 touchdowns during his junior season. Like Michel did during his time at Georgia, the Washington native uses great vision to help set up his runs and moves that make defenders look silly. Michel’s impact in the passing game faded during his final college season, but both backs have proved they’re capable of keeping linebackers honest by catching a couple of dozen passes out of the backfield on an annual basis.
Brown has yet to make it through a season at Ole Miss with a consistently healthy quarterback. Moore knows how he feels. The former Maryland standout broke the 1,000-yard receiving mark despite a torrent of injuries to his quarterbacks. Brown has a chance to be the nation’s best receiver in 2018 even if the Rebels struggle to compete through sanctions. Both he and Moore take advantage of sturdy frames to create space for themselves while running routes. Brown, slightly larger than Moore, will be a target worth watching all season.
Perhaps the best carbon copy for Bosa is his big brother, Joey, who was selected third overall in 2016 draft. From this year’s draft group, Chubb fits as a strong comparison because both fearsome pass-rushers used their speed off the line to overwhelm tackles and then a mixture of strength and athleticism to finish their trip to the quarterback. A strong year for the junior at Ohio State could propel him to be selected as high as his brother in a year that is jam-packed full of quality defensive linemen.
Oliver very well could have been a first-round pick this season if he wasn’t just finishing his second year of college football. He and Payne are both capable of disrupting the passing game from their posts in the middle of the defensive line — an added bonus from a position usually relied on more for their run-stuffing abilities. Oliver will remain the focal point for his hometown Cougars this fall (unlike Payne, who was surrounded by NFL talent on Alabama’s defense), but he should be able to keep pushing around interior linemen in the AAC for one more year before turning pro.
This is more of a mountainous duo than the Oliver-Payne combination. Lawrence is listed at 340 pounds, just a little shy of the 347-pound Vea. That kind of tonnage isn’t supposed to move as quickly as these two guys are able to get off the line. Vea and Lawrence blew up plays before they had a chance to get started last season. Lawrence has the benefit this year of playing alongside a couple of other potential first-round picks who will force opposing offensive lines to make some tough decisions.
The six interceptions Williams made as a redshirt freshman last season tied for the most in the SEC. He added 11 more pass breakups for the Tigers before opposing offenses figured out they ought to look elsewhere to complete passes against LSU. His production may dip in 2018 now that quarterbacks are more aware of his talent, which is something Alexander (five interceptions in 2016 and just one last year) will understand well. At 6-foot-2, Williams has better size than any of the high-profile corners taken in this year’s draft, but his aggressive and ball-hawking style aren’t much different than how Alexander played at Louisville.
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland Raiders left tackle Donald Penn is a suspect in a domestic violence case, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Monday morning.
Penn, 35, allegedly slapped his wife’s butt, poured a drink over her head and grabbed her wrist, according to TMZ. LAPD public relations officer Detective Meghan Aguilar said officers responded to a radio call at 9 p.m. Sunday, took a report and turned it over to area detectives.
When officers arrived at the residence, Penn had left the scene, Aguilar said.
Later Monday morning, TMZ reported that Penn and his wife, Dominique, issued a joint statement through their representative Denise White that disputed any physical altercation.
“There was a verbal disagreement, there was NO physical altercation,” the statement said. “The two are in the middle of a divorce and it is a hard time for both parties.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis has a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence. Davis could not be reached for comment.
Penn, who is recovering from Lisfranc surgery to his right foot after being injured in Week 15 last season, signed a two-year, $21 million contract extension after holding out during training camp last summer. The injury ended Penn’s streak of consecutive NFL starts at 170 games.
The Raiders selected two offensive tackles in the draft: first-rounder Kolton Miller from UCLA and third-rounder Brandon Parker from North Carolina A&T. Penn tweeted “MORE MOTIVATION” after the Thursday night selection of Miller, who was taken 15th overall and is considered to be Penn’s heir apparent at left tackle. Penn later deleted the tweet.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Thursday that Miller’s selection had nothing to do with Penn.
“This is about the future of the Oakland Raiders,” Gruden said. “We have an outstanding young quarterback [in Derek Carr], we have a need at the position, and we’re very fortunate to address [it]. But it doesn’t really say anything to Donald Penn.”
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The NFL pre-draft process isn’t the time for consensus building. It is difficult, if not impossible, for a single prospect to soften the skeptical eyes of pro personnel evaluators.
Much less a group of prospects.
Much less a group of prospects from one university.
But three weeks from the draft, no contingent of college teammates has made a stronger case than the one from Penn State. It started in Florida, days after a PlayStation Fiesta Bowl victory over Washington that cemented PSU’s second consecutive 11-win season, as Lions draft hopefuls began training at spots around the state. It continued as Penn State “won” the NFL scouting combine with 13 medals — players who finished first, second or third in events at their respective positions — the most of any school. The magical week in Indianapolis included dominance from Mike Gesicki and Saquon Barkley, NFL Network shout-outs for strength and conditioning chief Dwight Galt, and Deion Sanders trying to find the words to describe Troy Apke’s speed.
You would think this was our pro day with the amount of conversation going on about Penn State players dominating the @NFL Combine. No surprise to us though 🤐 #WeAre
Penn State’s pre-draft showcase ended back on campus March 20, as players built or augmented their draft profiles at pro day.
After producing just one draft pick in 2017 — wide receiver Chris Godwin, a third-round selection — Penn State is poised for a larger and glitzier output.
“We’ve got some very talented, talented people,” cornerback Grant Haley said. “Everyone was talented coming into college, but now with the help of coach [James] Franklin and the defensive staff, offensive staff, especially Coach Galt and the weight-room staff, we were able to take that to the next level. The whole program is changing, not just the football aspect, but beyond football.
“The testing efforts have really been impressive.”
Like all victories in football, Penn State’s combine triumph doesn’t stem only from the toil of recent months, but rather years. Apke remembers his first series of workouts with Galt in 2014.
“The first day we got in there as freshmen, we tested well,” said Apke, whose combine 40-yard dash time of 4.34 seconds was the best among safeties by six one-hundreths of a second. “With Coach Galt, we pushed through a lot of stuff, a lot of work. We knew we were going to test well. We trained really hard the last four years.”
Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton started his Penn State career in 2013, when the program was still processing the historic NCAA sanctions handed down the previous summer. Hamilton thinks the sanctions created “a whole different type of work ethic” on the roster.
In January 2014, Penn State hired Franklin. The new coach brought in Galt, who had been Franklin’s strength coach at Vanderbilt following a lengthy run at Maryland, where he trained eventual first-round draft picks Vernon Davis and Shawne Merriman.
“Big Deeg, he’s done a great job,” said Hamilton, who ran a 4.52 in the 40 at Penn State’s pro day after competing in other events at the combine and performing well at both the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game. “He transformed me. Some guys usually hit their peaks by their second or third year, but at least with me, he’s helped me get stronger every single year. He’s helped me get faster and quicker.”
Penn State’s combine performance wouldn’t have popped nationally without big performances from its draft headliners. While Barkley fell short of his personal expectations, he still led running backs in the vertical jump (41 inches), tied for the lead in bench-press reps (29) and finished second in the 40-yard dash (4.40 seconds). Gesicki nearly swept the events for tight ends, finishing first in the vertical jump (41.5 inches), broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches), three-cone drill (6.76 seconds), 20-yard shuttle (4.10 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (11.33 seconds), tying for first in the 40 (4.54 seconds) and finishing second in the bench press (22 reps, one behind the leader).
After a solid on-field workout at pro day, Gesicki put himself in the first-round conversation as one of the top four draftable tight ends. He called the pre-draft period “a dream come true.”
“The main goal with Mike was don’t mess him up,” said Russ Orr, a performance manager at EXOS training, who coached Gesicki during his draft prep. “We saw the potential he had walking through the door. Mike had some lofty goals to run very, very fast for his position. For him, it was learning proper start technique, proper running technique. How do we put him in the best position to express his speed and athleticism?”
Gesicki, a standout volleyball and basketball player in high school, had the leaping ability to excel in the vertical and the broad jumps, especially when he learned explosive jumping from a set position. He had produced on the field, both for Penn State (129 catches for 1,481 yards) and in the Senior Bowl, but faced doubts about his 40 — “Definitely the money drill,” Orr said — because of his long strides (he measured 6-foot-5 at the combine). At EXOS, Gesicki spent extra time reviewing video of finishing a sprint at top speed, and delivered in Indianapolis.
“Some people were not expecting me to run that 4.54,” he said. “But I know my speed and my abilities and all that kind of stuff. In that aspect of it, I was able to open up some eyes.”
Barkley had the eyes of the NFL all season. He didn’t need a huge combine to become a top pick. Yet Barkley, who would later declare himself “not a combine guy,” showed up ready to work when he arrived at Tom Shaw Performance in Orlando.
A shoulder sprain in the Fiesta Bowl delayed his lifting until mid-January, and he didn’t rep-out at 225 pounds until about a month before the combine. His first lift: 27 repetitions. In mid-February, Barkley ran a 4.29 in the 40, so his actual combine time, despite impressing others, came as a bit of a disappointment.
“The only person I can compare him to physically as impressive is Khalil Mack,” said Shaw Performance coach Bert Whigham, who also worked with Mack, the No. 5 overall selection in 2014 who has made three Pro Bowls as a linebacker with the Raiders. “And he’s going to work harder to be the best version of himself. You come across very few of those kinds of people in life.
Penn State safety Marcus Allen trained alongside Barkley at Shaw Performance. He worked to get leaner and to release tension in his hips so he would be more explosive in the 40.
The result: 4.59 seconds at PSU’s pro day.
“In six weeks, he turned from having a little bit of a tire around his waist to shredded,” Whigham said. “It was awesome. Those guys don’t live by comparison. They’re trying to max out their ability. That’s how you put up arguably the best combine performance of all-time in Saquon, and that’s how you broad-jump a 10.7 for Marcus at 215 [pounds], and you vertical 37 inches, and then you run a 4.59 on your pro day.”
Combine trainers who worked with Penn State players described them as strong natural athletes who thrived in the school’s developmental program and entered the pre-draft process with no entitlement. “I’m not taking anything away from any other team, but those guys are unbelievable,” said Orr, who also worked with wide receiver Saaed Blacknall, who clocked a 4.39 in the 40 at pro day, and linebacker Jason Cabinda.
“They obviously have a high standard for performance,” said Brian Stamper, a Tom Shaw performance coach. “It’s not like they’re having to dig down and draw out the ability to finish and do things the right way and do them well. It’s innate. This is what I need to do. There’s no other way to do it. That’s the biggest thing I see consistently around there.”
While satisfied with the players’ pre-draft performance, neither Franklin nor Galt seemed the least bit surprised. Sitting in his office flanking Penn State’s cavernous weight room, where players’ lifting and speed records line a wall stretching up to an extra-high ceiling, Galt said, “They see the numbers all the time on the board. So it’s a collateral positive to what’s happening in the combine.”
“For us, we kind of knew,” Franklin added. “Every year our guys that go to the combine test pretty much like we say they’re going to test. Chris Godwin, no one agreed with us — everybody thought he wasn’t going to run that fast, and he did. And all of the guys we’ve had at Vanderbilt and here who have gone to the combine have pretty much tested exactly the way we said they would, which is good because we know the way we’re doing it is consistent.”
How Penn State’s pre-draft blitz translates in Dallas remains to be seen. Barkley’s name will be called, perhaps first overall, and Gesicki’s shortly thereafter. Penn State will eclipse last year’s output. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.
But the praise Penn State has received during a notoriously nitpicky process should have an impact on the program for years to come.
“We’ve set a standard that everybody’s going to have to try and match; everybody’s going to try and exceed that,” Hamilton said. “If they do, then they’re obviously on the right pace.”
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Saquon Barkley didn’t work out at Penn State’s pro day after learning that no NFL running backs coaches would be in attendance, but the former Nittany Lions star will soon begin team visits.
Barkley had planned to participate in workouts for pro personnel on Tuesday but, like Penn State’s other participants at the NFL scouting combine, was not going to go through testing again.
“I woke up this morning and that was the game plan,” Barkley said, “but then when I realized there wasn’t a running backs coach here, I figured there was no point for me to run routes or do drills.”
Barkley added that he will likely just visit with NFL teams and might do “one or two” workouts, depending on advice he receives from his “team.”
“I’m over this stage, running in shorts and sweatshirts,” Barkley said. “That’s cool and all, but I’m not a combine guy. I want you to throw on the film and I want to show that I’m a football player.”
Barkley’s testing numbers at the NFL combine drew strong praise, but he said they didn’t meet his expectations. The All-America running back clocked a 4.4 flat in the 40-yard dash, a 41-inch vertical leap and 29 bench press repetitions at 225 pounds. Penn State head coach James Franklin told ESPN.com on Monday that Barkley’s combine performance was “very average,” compared to what he did at Penn State. Barkley rushed for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns, and he caught 102 passes for 1,195 yards at Penn State.
“I would agree with [Franklin], I would say it wasn’t my best, I feel like I could have done a lot better,” Barkley said. “But I’m not going to sit here and complain because a lot of guys wish they could have had the same numbers that I had that day, the performance I had that day. I was really happy with the off-field stuff, the interviews, and I think I did really well in the drills with catching the ball, running and looking smooth and fluid.”
Barkley called himself a “legit 4.3 guy” in the 40-yard dash and clocked a 4.29 during training. He has had a 42-inch vertical leap and typically records 30-35 repetitions on the bench press.
Barkley will be in Dallas for draft on April 26 after initially planning to stay home in Pennsylvania. He’s looking forward to the draft and also to the birth of his first child. On Saturday, Barkley’s girlfriend, Anna Congdon, announced on Instagram that she and Barkley are expecting a child next month.
“The baby’s due April 14, not sure the gender, that’s going to be a surprise,” Barkley said. “April’s going to be a big month for me. I tweeted out the other day a big blessing’s coming my way. A lot of people thought I was just talking about the draft. I was talking about my future kid.
“I’m excited. Some people aren’t even blessed with the opportunity to have kids, and I’m able to have one. I’m truly excited to be a father.”
Next month my whole life changes!!! Blessings on blessings ❤️🙌🏾
Barkley said he would welcome a visit to the Cleveland Browns, who hold the No. 1 pick in April’s draft. He met with the Browns and New York Giants, among other teams, for informal interviews at the NFL combine.
“The draft is unpredictable, as you guys know,” Barkley said. “Whatever team drafts me, I’ll be truly excited. It’s an honor. I don’t think about getting my name called No. 1. I just think about getting my name called, period. That’s a moment that you think about for the rest of your life. Whether you play two years or 12 years in the league, no one can take that from you.”