Saquon Barkley: Penn State HC James Franklin was ‘awesome for me’

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin reacts with running back Saquon Barkley
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin reacts with running back Saquon Barkley /

New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley recently spoke out on accusations aimed towards James Franklin.

At this point, the Penn State football program doesn’t have to put out any further statements in defense of their head coach, James Franklin. As a report regarding Franklin’s alleged behind-the-scenes actions surfaced the internet lately, former players have been coming out of the woodworks to defend the Nittany Lions’ leader.

For some background on the ongoing story — Penn State fired their director of athletic medicine back in March. Dr. Scott Lynch, who served as the teams’ orthopedic surgeon, lost his job for initially unknown reasons. Apparently, Penn State wanted to hold the job for somebody who was more local, as Lynch was based elsewhere.

While Penn State still has Lynch employed, just not with the athletic department, that didn’t stop the former team doctor from filing a claim. According to recent reports, Lynch is in search of $50,000 in damages, claiming that Coach Franklin would ‘pressure’ him into clearing injured players early so they would avoid missing additional time. Both Franklin and the Penn State athletic department have denied those claims.

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So far, parents of players have spoken out, two former Lions have put out statements, and even a former Vanderbilt quarterback dished in his two cents as well. Now, former Penn State star Saquon Barkley shares a story of his own in defense of his former college coach.

Barkley’s story

During his freshman year in 2015, Barkley was dealing with an ankle injury, which was going to force him to miss some time. Seeing as though Barkley was as valuable as anybody on the Nittany Lions, the last thing Franklin wanted to do was rush him back to risk further injury.

"“I personally wanted to get back on the field as fast as I could,” Barkley told NJ Advance Media Tuesday at the NFL100 kickoff event. “And play as fast as I could. James Franklin was awesome for me. I tried to force it and he just wouldn’t allow me force it. I sat out the next two weeks and was able to come out and be healthy the rest of the season.”"

While discussing an extended range of topics at the NFL100 Kickoff Event, it was inevitable that Barkley was going to get asked about the ongoing situation in Happy Valley. Considering how close Barkley and Coach Franklin have become over his three-year stint with the Lions, there was no way the Giants’ running back was going to stay silent on the story.

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“Coach Franklin’s been nothing but a role model and mentor to me, I feel like he’s part of my family,” Barkley said. While the former Lions running back isn’t the first to defend the head coach, he most likely won’t be the last either. We’re beginning to spot a trend that more players have dealt with Franklin holding them back because of injury, rather than rushing them in.