Saquon Barkley came away from Atlanta empty-handed. But Chicago provided him with a major award instead.
Penn State’s star running back began Thursday by repeating as the Chicago’s Tribune Silver Football winner as the Big Ten’s best player. In the evening, Barkley was shut out at the national awards ceremony in Georgia, which he attended with Nittany Lions coach James Franklin and assistant coach Terry Smith.
Barkley had been a finalist for the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award as national player of the year as well as the Doak Walker Award as the country’s top running back. He lost out to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield for the first two and Stanford’s Bryce Love for the Doak Walker.
“You just live in the moment,” Barkley said on ESPN’s broadcast after the awards were announced. “It’s bigger than awards. I got to grow a lot closer to guys like Baker and Bryce.”
In pre-taped segments, Barkley, Mayfield and Love were shown around Atlanta by ESPN’s Maria Taylor, including interviews from a Ferris wheel ride. Barkley also did a brief live segment with former Georgia legend Herschel Walker.
Teammate Mike Gesicki was a finalist for the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end but lost out to Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews when the winner was announced on Wednesday night.
Barkley, who last week became just the third player to repeat as Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, is only the fifth two-time winner of the Silver Football, which was first awarded to Red Grange in 1924. He joins Minnesota’s Paul Giel, Ohio State’s Archie Griffin, Indiana’s Anthony Thompson and, most recently, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller.
Last season, Barkley split the honor with Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett in a vote which has all 14 Big Ten coaches pick their No. 1 and No. 2 choices. Coaches cannot vote for their own player.
This time, Barkley was on 12 of 13 possible ballots, earning nine-first place votes to Barrett’s three. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor and Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst each received one first-place vote.
“He’s the best that I’ve ever been around,” Franklin said on Sunday. “He’s a great player and a great person. He’s impacted the game on offense and special teams. Everybody I talk to at next level say he’s one of the best running back prospects they’ve seen in a very long time.
“I can’t imagine there’s a better or more dynamic player in the country than Saquon Barkley.”
Earlier in the week, Mayfield, Love and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson edged Barkley as Heisman Trophy finalists.
But Barkley won the Paul Hornung Award on Wednesday as the nation’s most versatile player and also became Penn State’s 100th first-team All-American on Thursday when he earned the designation from the Walter Camp Association.
“It’s truly an honor,” Barkley said of winning the Hornung in a video posted by the award committee. “I’ve gotta give credit and give thanks to my teammates, especially my offensive linemen paving the way for me. Credit to the coaches, especially (departed coordinators Joe Moorhead and Charles Huff), all those guys finding creative ways to get the ball in my hands.”