In the wake of allegations from a former Penn State team doctor about head coach James Franklin improperly dealing with player injuries, plenty of ex-Nittany Lions have come to his defense. But perhaps the loudest voice to speak on his behalf is team legend Saquon Barkley.
Speaking to NJ.com, Barkley refuted the claims that Franklin would try and force players back quickly from injuries. Speaking of his own experience, he actually found the opposite.
Barkley claimed that he tried to return early from an injured ankle in 2014. But Franklin would not permit him to return to the field before he was back at 100-percent.
“I personally wanted to get back on the field as fast as I could,” Barkley said. “And play as fast as I could. James Franklin was awesome for me. I tried to force it and he just wouldn’t allow me force it. I sat out the next two weeks and was able to come out and be healthy the rest of the season.
“... Coach Franklin’s been nothing but a role model and mentor to me. I feel like he’s part of my family.”
He would go on to miss a couple of games that year, and Penn State finished the season 7-6 overall.
Former Penn State doctor Scott Lynch is suing the school for $50,000 in damages. He claims that the team wrongfully terminated him for whistleblowing and believes he was ousted for interfering in letting players return to the field from injuries.
James Franklin responded to the allegations this week.
While the case will be settled one way or another in the courts, Barkley's anecdote certainly paints a very interesting picture in this case.