Giants first round draft pick Saquon Barkley was introduced at a press conference Saturday:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Saquon Barkley proved today his tremendous balance is not confined to the football field.
At his introductory news conference in the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, the Giants' first-round draft choice managed to convey both a humbleness and a desire to fit in as one of the team's many offensive weapons while at the same time making it very clear he is not going to be a dime-a-dozen running back.
"I want to get to the point where I'm a dominant player in the league, and I have that presence," Barkley said. "I think that's why I was brought here, to bring an impact to the running game, to have that same domination that I had in college, where a team wants to just shut me down and then it just opens up everyone else. And it's vice versa, when you have Odell (Beckham, Jr.) and Sterling (Shepard) and Eli (Manning) throwing for 300-400 yards, then they are not focused on the run game and then I get to go."
Barkley is considered by many the best running back prospect in a generation. The second overall selection in the draft, he was the first running back chosen that high since Reggie Bush in 2006. He joins the players listed above, plus tight end Evan Engram, last year's No. 1 choice, to give the Giants an exciting and prolific collection of ball-handlers. And in veterans Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh, as well as second-round draft choice Will Hernandez, the Giants have also upgraded their line.
"This offense is amazing," Barkley said. "This is a very talented offense. You've got an established quarterback, a proven quarterback with two Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl MVPs. You've got one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, if not the best. In my opinion, personally, I think so. And you've got a young wide receiving corps, and adding Will Hernandez and Nate Solder to the offensive line. And myself, God willing, if I can have the success that I had college football, I think I would fit perfect in this offense. But right now, the way I see myself is coming in and learning from the guys, from the older guys, and lead at a young age. Getting the playbook and taking it day by day."
Barkley brings impressive collegiate credentials to the Giants.
In 38 games at Penn State, he had 671 rushing attempts for 3,843 yards (5.7-yard avg.) and 43 touchdowns. He averaged 101.1 yards per game on the ground. Barkley also caught 102 passes for 1,195 yards (11.7-yard avg.) and eight scores. He finished his career as Penn State's all-time rushing touchdown (43) and total touchdown (53) record holder. Barkley became the only player in Penn State history and just the fourth Big Ten student-athlete to gain 3,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a career.
Actually, we could use the rest of this story to list his impressive statistics and achievements. But that obscures his other virtues. Barkley is friendly and outgoing, confident yet humble, eager to please but direct in explaining exactly what he expects of himself.
A native of The Bronx – his family left when he was "five or six" – Barkley was asked if he's looking forward to doing anything in New York City.
"I've been to a Broadway show," he said. "I've seen Hamilton, which is one of the greatest things I've seen in my life. I'd definitely encourage you guys to go see that."
Wow, his first day in town and Barkley has the self-assurance to offer entertainment advice. Of course, if he plays up to the pre-draft hype, Giants fans may carry him down Broadway. He's already been touted as not just as the potential face of the NFL's flagship franchise, but the entire league.
"I know that's been said about me, and that's been said about me in college at Penn State," he said. "But I think it's kind of how you view it. I really never view myself as that. If that comes along with the things that I'm doing, then so be it. But the way that I kind of handle that is just continue to stay focused on the sport, and continue to stay focused on football and focus on my family and the things that get you there.
"But the face of the franchise, when you have success, that tag comes along (with it). That's kind of how I view it. The more success you have, the more attention and the more spotlight comes to your name, and they kind of tag you with that. But that's not something that I'm really looking forward to being. If that happens, God willing, I have a lot of success and that comes with the territory, then so be it. But the thing I'm focused on right now is just really coming in as a rookie and getting the playbook, learning the playbook, learn from the older guys, learn how to lead at a young age. That's something that's a challenge for me and I know I've been challenged by the coaches here, that I look forward to. And to continue to get ready every single day and to get better every single day."
Spoken like a young man with great confidence – and humility.
View the best photos from Saquon Barkley's first press conference (Photos/AP Images)