Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, rated by some as perhaps the top prospect in this year's draft, says his first football aspirations came while watching the Jets.
"My dad has been telling me that I said I wanted to play in the NFL since I was two," Barkley told reporters at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. "I was a New York Jets fan growing up and my dad said I used to sit there at a very young age and watch football with him and tell him I'm going to play for that team one day. I'm living the dream now. Being here and around these guys is awesome."
Even though the Jets are tied to the root of Barkley's love for the game, the potential No. 1 selection doesn't care what colors he'll wear on Sundays.
"Any team that wants to draft me and give me an opportunity to play for their franchise is a blessing to me," he said. "You grow up as a little kid dreaming to play in the NFL you're going to have an opportunity for a team that's going to pick you. Whether it's the Browns, the Giants or wherever I get drafted, I'm going to come in with my head low and ready to work."
The Coplay, PA native finished his three-year collegiate career with multiple records in Happy Valley. Barkley finished as Penn State's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns and total TDs with 43 and 53 respectively. He is also the Nittany Lions' all-purpose yards leader with 5,538.
"I try to be a versatile player. I'm very confident in myself," said Barkley, who also returned kicks in college. "Whether the ball is on the 99-yard line or the 1-yard line, I can find a way to get into the end zone. I can do it all I feel like. I can go over the top of you, I can beat you with speed, I can beat you with some wiggle and I can run through you. That's something I try to improve every single day."
While the 6'0", 233-pounder will go through drills on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium Friday, he put on a show in the bench press with 29 reps, tied for the best among running backs along with Georgia's Nick Chubb. Barkley said he's excited to work out with the rest of the talented group that includes USC's Ronald Jones II, LSU's Derrius Guice, Auburn's Kerryon Johnson and Georgia's Sony Michel.
"I'm just focused on coming out here and trying to dominate this Combine and getting to know the guys," Barkley said. "And when I'm working out, push the guys I'm working out with every single day and try to get better."