Saquon Barkley could be NFL’s next highlight-reel superstar

Todd Gurley in 2015, Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, Leonard Fournette in 2017. It seems every year there's a running back coming from college to the pros who turns out to be the next great runner.

But there's only one Saquon Barkley.

Penn State's rushing phenom is only five games into what many believe will be his final year of college football, but the 20-year-old business major has already shown he's more than just a really good football player - he's a star.

Barkley got into unreal shape this season, going through near-inhuman workouts over the summer, and the effort has paid off. Whereas some players simply appear more athletic by hitting the gym, Barkley added a new gear and a surreal combination of athletic skills that will keep him in headlines at the pro level.

There's a difference between stars like Barkley who can electrify the gridiron and those who are just very good at their jobs. It's not an easy task to keep filling highlight reels every week, but, similar to the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Cam Newton, and Marshawn Lynch, there's something about the way he produces that makes it impossible to stop watching.

In Saturday's win over Indiana, he took the opening kickoff 98 yards to the end zone for a dazzling score that will live on every "Plays of the Week" list for the next seven games. While kickoffs likely won't be on Barkley's list of duties at the NFL level, he'll be asked to catch the ball out of the backfield, and he can do that just fine.

Elite. Is Saquon Barkley the Heisman favorite? #PeepGame 🎥 @BigTenNetwork
— Champs Sports (@champssports) September 30, 2017

Barkley's ability to catch a ball with one hand while reading a defender and making a stop-on-a-dime cut likens him to LeSean McCoy, but at 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, the Nittany Lion can also go into power mode.

Is Saquon Barkley a human cannon ball? MY COLUMN:
— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) September 9, 2017

When he doesn't want to lower his shoulder and deal out punishment, the Bronx native has shown he can go vertical to avoid tacklers.

Call him Shaquon Barkley because this guy is Superman
— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) September 24, 2017

Related - Watch: Saquon Barkley reminds Iowa he's impossible to tackle

Barkley likely won't line up as a wideout to catch the ball as McCaffrey has, but he's shown his route-running skills and ball tracking could allow him to switch positions. Pro defenses may need to rethink assigning a linebacker to cover the opposition's running back when he takes the field.

Saquon Barkley trying to prove he's the best receiver in college too
— Patrick Schmidt (@PatrickASchmidt) September 9, 2017

What's more impressive than his ability to get open and make the catch is what he does once the ball is in his hands. As the only Penn State player with an 80-yard rushing touchdown and a receiving score in the school's history, Barkley always believes he can get in the end zone, regardless of how many bodies are in his way.

Saquon Barkley showing why he could be a 1st rounder in fantasy next year 😱
— ESPN FantasyFauxball (@ESPNFauxball) September 17, 2017

There's still plenty of football to be played before draft season, but Barkley is making a solid case to raise the profile and visibility of whichever club nabs him.

The combination of skill, power, speed, vision, and smarts makes Barkley a near-perfect running back prospect - perhaps the best since Bo Jackson. But there are lots of exceptional players in the league. What sets him apart is the X-factor; the ability to make everyone turn their heads.

The guy can do everything, and he does it with a style you can watch over and over - even as a quarterback.

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