Critics take aim at Penn State’s Saquon Barkley; former Nittany Lions star says he suffers from CTE

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Saquon Barkley bowls over critics

A season ago, two high profile running backs skipped their respective bowl games, jumpstarting a whole different conversation surrounding the college bowl season.

LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffery both opted to sit out the college postseason, both ended up going to the NFL draft, both were first-round picks.

So it’s not a surprise that many pundits are suggesting Penn State’s Saquon Barkley skip the upcoming Dec. 30th Fiesta Bowl against Washington to focus on the April draft.

It should be noted that LSU and Stanford did not participate in a New Year’s Six bowl, in fact neither game was even played on New Year’s Day.

Barkley isn’t have any of it, writes Land of 10’s Sean Keeler.

Writes Keeler:

“Obviously, people are going to have their opinion on it,” Penn State’s All-America tailback told Land of 10 recently when asked about critics who say he should skip the Dec. 30 postseason contest because of the injury risk. “Like I said, at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is mine. And I’m going to play for my teammates, and that’s essentially it.”

Barkley emphatically stated after Penn State’s nutty 56-44 win over Nebraska that he would play in whatever bowl Penn State landed in.

Former Penn State star Larry Johnson living ‘with demons’

Larry Johnson was a Heisman Trophy finalist, a 2000-yard rusher, one of the best running backs to ever play at Penn State. As a NFL running back, Johnson had two stellar back-to-back seasons, rushing for 3,539 yards and 37 touchdowns between the 2005-06 seasons.

Now retired, Johnson tells Kent Babb of the Washington Post that he’s living with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.

And it’s bad enough that Johnson has thoughts of jumping off the roof of a building some days.

From Babb:

Johnson says he has considered violence toward others and himself, and perhaps the only reason he hasn’t acted on these impulses is sitting quietly in the back seat, looking out the window at the South Florida flatlands.

Babb writes that Johnson compares his condition to that of late New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who committed suicide while serving a life sentence for first-degree murder in a Massachusetts state prison.

Johnson could be cheerful and social at times, sullen and isolated at others. He collected slights and bad habits, to say nothing of the guns he kept strapped to his shoulders at high-end restaurants or under the seat of his white Bentley. Some nights he’d fire rounds into strangers’ lawns or palm a pistol at a gas station, he says, hoping someone would challenge him for a late-night lesson in toughness.

Johnson’s brother, Tony, says the family will consider donating Johnson’s brain for future study after his death, per Babb.

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Fans really like Marcus Allen

Fight On State magazine recently ran a poll for fans to pick the 2017 defensive MVP for Penn State. The winner? Safety Marcus Allen, who snagged 57.8-percent of the vote, writes the magazine’s Mark Harrington.

Hard to argue it would be anyone other than a defensive back for coordinator Brent Pry’s unit.

Southern influence

Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead exited Penn State to guide the Mississippi State program, and he also brought  with former Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and assistant coach Charles Huff.

So to say that Penn State will have a direct impact on the Bulldogs would be an understatement, writes Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call.

Moorhead also brought in his replacement as head coach at Fordham, Andrew Breiner, to guide his quarterbacks. Breiner was a hot rumor to replace Moorhead at Penn State, but nothing ever came of it.

Miss previous editions of the Wakeup Call? They can be found here.

The post Critics take aim at Penn State’s Saquon Barkley; former Nittany Lions star says he suffers from CTE appeared first on Land of 10.

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