Penn State running back Saquon Barkley enters the 2017 season with big expectations. The 5-foot-11, 223-pound rising sophomore racked up 1,496 rushing yards, 402 receiving yards and 22 total touchdowns for the Nittany Lions last season. He's in the way-too-early Heisman conversation, and he's been working hard to live up to the hype.
While many of his classmates spent their spring break partying, Barkley and a few of his teammates visited EXOS in Gulf Breeze, Florida, for speed and performance training. While at EXOS, Barkley ran into Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who was fresh off a phenomenal rookie season. According to Barkley, the time he spent talking and training with Prescott was extremely beneficial.
"It was really cool, actually, to work out with Dak and talk to him and see the knowledge he has and what he learned from his first year [in the NFL]," Barkley said. "Especially being on a team with guys like Dez [Bryant] and Zeke Elliott. So it was pretty cool to learn from him and work out with him."
Prescott's standout rookie season was fueled by his voracious work ethic. During the season, he regularly woke up at 6 a.m. and was in the hot tub at the team facility by 6:15. Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson told Sports Illustrated that Dak learned the playbook faster than any rookie he's seen in his 10 seasons with Dallas. When you talk about being a pro, Prescott embodies that philosophy. According to Barkley, that was the main thing he took away from spending time with the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"[Dak talked to me about] how to be a leader, how to come to practice every single day and how to be a pro. Obviously I'm still in college," Barkley said. "But if you can be a pro about your body and a pro about how you approach practice and how you try to become a leader, you just overall become a better player."
Armed with advice from Prescott, Barkley could be in for a sensational season. He reportedly lowered his 40-Yard Dash time to 4.33 seconds this offseason while also packing on additional muscle mass.