August 01, 2018
By: Cassie Schmidt
Saquon Barkley... you may have heard of him. Well, not only can I say that I don't live under a rock and have heard the buzz surrounding the New York Giants rookie, but I can also say I know that rookie personally. Saquon and I went to school together and have had many nights on my back porch by the fire pit with friends. So when I got to see the hype in person from the thousands of fans lined up to see him outside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, it made me SO proud.
There were so many fans decked out in the #26 jersey. From little nuggets (my word for tiny humans) who were just starting to walk, to young kids who definitely are looking up to him (as they should), to the hopeful adults who had to suffer through the 3-13 season last year and already have high expectations for the Lehigh Valley native. It was also pretty awesome to see such a wide range of fans from all different locations. Of course the ones from New York or New Jersey, but I also got to talk to some from the Valley who have watched him since his time at Whitehall and all through his career at Penn State. Now I might be a little bit biased, being his friend and all, but there is nothing like the following that you receive from your hometown. I think most people enjoy just saying they were able to watch Saquon doing Saquon-things back when he was just the scrawny little Zephyr hurdling over his opponents. Then, following him all throughout his time at Penn State and watching him accomplish all that he has, while still remaining true to the person he is. He has an entire town filled with family and friends that will ALWAYS have his back and will never stop rooting for him (even the Eagles fans) and that Eagles fan is me.
When Sa got drafted back in April I had very mixed emotions. I was grateful for him not going to Cleveland cause its the Browns and much farther away from home. BUT, because he didn't go there, he unfortunately went to the Giants. I had to be happy for him because in his mind that is probably what he would've preferred and now I get to see the Eagles (hopefully) squash the Giants and watch my friend play! I already told him he is only allowed one touchdown when he plays my Birds (here's hoping). I will admit covering the Giants Training Camp though, was an experience like no other. I was totally in awe of everything we got to do that day I forgot about my hatred for the team for a little while. I was also embracing the fact that I got to watch Saquon receive the handoff from Eli Manning about 20 yards from where we were filming. I love my job and the amazing people I get to meet and interview, but this will definitely be atop my list of things I have covered.
Although the official start to the season has not begun, I am very excited to see what Saquon can do this year, as are all the Giants fans. The hype that has surrounded the rookie before he has even played a down is not only impressive but a little scary. People have put a lot of expectations on him as a player and a person. But, knowing the guy that he is I know he won't let that hype get to him. He is so determined to be the best player he can be, always working hard and asking questions of his peers that none of that surrounding hype even matters to him. As for him being the best person he can be, I know that that will never waiver either. I absolutely wishing the best for my friend, the New York Giants rookie running back.