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August 5, 2017

Saquon Barkley

University Park, Pennsylvania

THE MODERATOR: Joined by junior running back Saquon Barkley. We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Good afternoon. I'll just start with word association -- Heisman. What comes to mind when you think of that personally, the award itself, and what it would mean to be just even a candidate for that award?
SAQUON BARKLEY: The Heisman award is a great award obviously. It's given to the best player in college football, and to even be mentioned in that category is an honor.

When that pops up to me, I really don't get too much of a rush on it because I'm really focused on the season and taking it day by day and focusing on the team and trying to win every single game possible and just try to be a better player and a better person and a better leader every single day.

Q. Saquon, can you kind of take us through your summer. I know you were out at The Opening for a while. Obviously, here, you were a big hit in town with the autograph signing. What's it like when you're at these events and everybody kind of wants a piece of your time and you trying to accommodate that?
SAQUON BARKLEY: The Opening was a really cool experience. Obviously, I went there when I was in high school, and I loved it. They bring back alumnis. You got to really connect and build a friendship with a couple of guys in college football. Built a nice little friendship with Derwin James, Armani Watts, Christian Kirk and those type of guys. So it was a pretty cool experience.

And walking downtown, taking pictures and signing stuff, I just try to just smile, be nice, be kind because you never know, a picture or saying one word to someone could change someone's day.

Q. Saquon, I know last off-season you spent a lot of time in the film room watching some of the other top running backs in the country, trying to maybe take in some of what they do best individually. I guess, what have you -- what was your focus this off-season in terms of that?
SAQUON BARKLEY: I still watch other backs. I'm a fan of football. Obviously, I play it, but I'm also a fan of college football and NFL football. I love watching guys like Le'Veon Bell, Zeke Elliott, and I have much respect for guys Royce Freeman, Derrius Guice, and those guys in college football.

I feel like you can learn from everybody, learn from their mistakes and learn from what they do good. So watch them and try and take pieces of their game and put it into my game.

Q. What do you feel you added last year based on your research from a couple months before?
SAQUON BARKLEY: I mean, I felt like I wanted to focus on getting stronger and getting faster. I think I was able to do that this off-season. Our coaching staff and our strength staff did a really good job pushing me. I gained weight this year. I'm at 230 now. I feel faster. I ran a faster 40 than I did last year in the past. That's something I wanted to really add to my game because I feel like, when you do the weight room, it really translates to the football field.

Q. Saquon, I can understand if you don't want to share your decision, but have you made a decision yet regarding whether or not you'll declare early for the NFL draft?
SAQUON BARKLEY: No, I have not made a decision yet. I'm really just focusing on the season and focusing day by day. Right now my biggest focus is on camp and the six practice.

Q. Hey, Saquon, Matt Millen and Dan Koppen are two guys, Whitehall grads, that made it into the NFL. How much do you know about them? When you go back home, are you treated like a rock star? What's it like to go back home?
SAQUON BARKLEY: I wouldn't say I'm treated like a rock star, but I think a lot of people are appreciative of what I'm doing, coming from a small town like Coplay and going to Whitehall.

But, yeah, you know the stories about Matt Millen and Dan Koppen. When I was in high school, every time you walk into the fieldhouse, you have their two names retired in football. Every single kid would love to play in the NFL someday, and you visualize being retired like that and having your name and your jersey number up there one day.

Q. Have you ever talked to them about it?
SAQUON BARKLEY: I have never talked to Dan Koppen personally. He has tweeted at me, and I have held a conversation with him over Twitter. Matt Millen does our games, and he's kind of the reason why people know my nickname is Say-Say. I had a couple of conversations with Matt Millen. Matt Millen is a great guy and gave me great advice.

Q. Saquon, what are your thoughts on Miles Sanders and the progress he's made in the last year, especially during the off-season?
SAQUON BARKLEY: Miles is a hard worker. He really focuses on being the best player he can be every single day and comes to practice with a great work ethic. Not just him, all the RBs. I think they do a great job of pushing each other and being competitive and keep competing every single day.

I'm really excited to see what Miles is able to do. He also got bigger and stronger and faster this year. Andre got faster. Mark got bigger and faster. All the RBs got bigger and faster. So far what we had in camp, there's been really good competition between those guys, and I'm looking forward to see how they continue to compete throughout the rest of camp.

Q. Saquon, Coach Franklin just heaped a lot of praise on your family when he was in here a few minutes ago. Can you talk about the impact of how they've raised you and the role that they play in your life.
SAQUON BARKLEY: My family plays a big role. Coach Franklin always tells us to have a why. They're my why, my mother and my father and my brothers and sisters. I love them to death. Without my mother and father, I wouldn't be here on this earth, and without my family, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Everything I do, I try to credit them and God. I'm just so thankful.

A lot of people aren't fortunate to have both their parents in life. I have both my parents, happily married and happily together. And I have older brothers and sisters and younger brothers and sisters. Just have memories to treasure the rest of our life. I think family plays a big role in your life, and I'm really appreciative of them.

Q. Coaches Franklin and Moorhead were just in here telling us they're going to try to get you the ball in any way possible. I'm curious, at what point this off-season did you learn about these new wrinkles they're going to try to introduce, and what are your thoughts about that idea and the new ways they're going to try to get you the ball?
SAQUON BARKLEY: That idea came to my head when Coach Franklin challenged me to try to become a better receiver, a better player overall. I feel that, and Coach Franklin will agree, that I'm capable of being lined up in the slot, being able to run routes. I did a lot of one-on-one reps this summer with the defense, against DBs and linebackers and working those guys and working out with Hammy and trying to really fix my routes to become more of a threat in the offense.

I do feel like I'm capable to do a lot with the ball in my hand in space, and I just want to continue to grow in that area.

Q. With your family's boxing past, are you a fan of the sport? Will you be watching the next big fight with Mayweather? I'm just curious about how much boxing you've watched over the years.
SAQUON BARKLEY: I used to watch boxing a lot more when I was younger and when I was in high school, but when you get to college, your time is so valuable, and you're so busy with football and trying to become a better football player and find time to talk to your family, talk to your friends, and also schoolwork.

So I really haven't been watching boxing as much before the Mayweather fight. Everybody is going to be watching that fight. It's MMA versus a boxer. It's going to be good for TV, and I'm excited to watch that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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