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Penn State running back Saquon Barkley entering NFL draft

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley breaks free for a 92-yard touchdown run against Washington during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley breaks free for a 92-yard touchdown run against Washington during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)
By Travis Johnson Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is entering the NFL draft.

Barkley announced his decision to skip his senior year Sunday, a day after helping Penn State beat Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.

In a letter posted to his Instagram account, Barkley thanked Penn State fans, teammates and coaches and said he promised his parents and coach James Franklin that he would return to complete his journalism degree.

“I hope I have left a lasting impression on this University, football program and community at large,” Barkley wrote. “It has been an honor and privilege to be able to call Penn State home and represent the Blue & White and all of the great players who came before me and will follow after me. I will continue to work each and every day to continue to represent Penn State the right way as I move on to the next phase of my life.”

Barkley ran for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns this season and had 54 catches for 632 yards and three TDs. He also completed two passes – one for a score – and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

On Saturday in Glendale, Arizona, he ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns and caught seven passes for 38 yards in the No. 9 Nittany Lions’ 35-28 victory over No. 12 Washington.

Barkley finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting and won the Paul Hornung Award as college football’s most versatile player. He leaves Penn State 89 yards shy of the program rushing record with 3,843 yards

The 5-foot-11, 233-pound back was an immediate contributor as a true freshman and rose to national prominence as one of the country’s most dynamic players. He used a frenetic running style to compile a lengthy highlight reel full of hurdles, spin moves and jukes en route to a program-best 43 rushing touchdowns.

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