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How Penn State Helped Bring Saquon Barkley to Philadelphia

James Franklin discusses the "really cool" opportunity Barkley has with the Eagles.

March 14 update:

The Philadelphia Eagles denied claims of tampering resulting from Penn State coach James Franklin's comments this week, according to ESPN. Saquon Barkley told reporters at his introductory press conference in Philadelphia that Franklin "kind of misinterpreted" comments Barkley made to him in a conversation. Barkley said that Philadelphia Eagles General Manager spoke with his agent and not with Barkley himself, which is not allowed during what's known as the "legal tampering" period.

Penn State coach James Franklin chatted with Saquon Barkley on Monday night after Barkley agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles, a blockbuster deal for that Venn Diagram of football fans in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, Barkley told Franklin that Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman made Penn State and homecoming part of his presentation to the former New York Giants running back.

"He said that was one of the first things that Howie said to him on the phone as part of his sales pitch," Franklin said Tuesday. "Not only the Philadelphia Eagles and that that but also the connection with Penn State and the fan base as well. So just a really cool opportunity."

Franklin, a Bucks County native who grew up an Eagles fan, clearly was thrilled that Barkley had signed with Philadelphia for multiple reasons. For one, Barkley continued to demonstrate his value, signing a three-year contract worth $37.75 million. Franklin long has championed Barkley's NFL value both on and off the field. Second, Franklin loved the homecoming connection and sounded pleased that Roseman made it part of his pitch.

Barkley was born in New York but moved to Pennsylvania when he was young and played high school football in Whitehall, a little over an hour from Philadelphia. By signing with Penn State in 2015 after initially committing to Rutgers, Barkley was the signature player of Franklin's early "Dominate the State" recruiting theme. On Tuesday, before Penn State began spring football practice, Franklin returned to that theme in discussing Barkley as a Philadelphia Eagle. Penn State football's social media team wasn't shy about making the connection as well.

"Our hit rate with players who have decided to stay home from the state of Pennsylvania has been really good," Franklin said. "I'm talking about the top players in the state that have chosen to stay here."

Franklin has remained one of Barkley's sounding boards and confidants since the running back entered the NFL Draft in 2018. Franklin said that last year he and his wife Fumi had a "lengthy conversation" with Barkley about his contract situation with the Giants. Franklin said that Barkley will thrive in Philadelphia for several reasons.

"You'd better bring more value [in the NFL] as a running back," Franklin said. "You'd better be a leader in the locker room, and we all know Saquon has handled himself really well and has influence over the guys in the locker room. But then also in the passing game; you've got to be able to make an impact in the passing game as well. And I think he's one of those backs that can be used in a lot of different ways."

Barkley has returned to Penn State for occasional games and offseason visits over the years. Understanding Barkley's schedule, Franklin still hopes this move could open more trips to State College.

"When you're right down the road in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, that helps with being around this fan base and around the team," Franklin said. "I also love the fact that [former players] can come back and have influence. ... We try to get these guys back as much as we can. Selfishly, I think there's a ton of value for Penn State football, and I know for our players."

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the network.