Saquon Barkley was an absolute menace at Penn State. 

In each of his three seasons, Barkley rushed for over 1,000+ yards and added 18 touchdowns in both 2016 and 2017. The saying “putting up video game numbers” doesn’t even qualify for what Barkley did at the college level.

His play resulted in getting selected No. 2 overall by the New York Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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And then there is Oregon running back CJ Verdell. At first glance, the two running backs look quite similar in terms of body type: a powerful lower body combined with the speed and quickness to run through tackles or bounce to the outside at lightning speed. 

Two running backs that have dominated at the college level.

And there is one thing that connects the two together:

Oregon Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead

Moorhead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State with Barkley as his primary running back from 2016-2017. The Nittany Lions put up 30 or more points in 21 of the 26 games under Moorhead. 

“Saquon was kind of a unique guy - as everyone knows - from a skillset perspective. CJ kind of reminds me of a combination. He has some Kylin Hill in him and he also has some Chase Edmonds in him…

They bounce off of people and they don’t get brought down to the ground very easily. Very low center of gravity, very powerfully built and they’re able to run through half a man or run through arm tackles. 

Oregon Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead

Kylin Hill was the running back for Mississippi State when Moorhead was the head coach from (2018-2019). Last season, Hill recorded 1,350 rushing yards on 242 carries and 10 touchdowns. He decided to opt out of the 2020 season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft after playing three games for the Bulldogs this year.


“Then you go back to some of the things Chase [Edmonds] did, very shifty very elusive, make people miss in space… Kylin will be a draft pick, Saquon, Chase… We’ve had a lot of backs that go onto the next level and have been very successful and CJ is certainly going to do that as well.”

Chase Edmonds was the running back at Fordham University where Moorhead was the head coach from 2012-2015.

In his final season at Fordham, Edmonds was limited due to injury and only saw action in seven games, but he still earned All-League honors. After three and a half successful seasons at Fordham, the Arizona Cardinals selected the running back in the fourth round (No. 134 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Moorhead knows a good running back when he sees them and Verdell is no different.

While Duck fans will have to wait to see Verdell at the next level, they can enjoy one more year of him carving up the Pac-12 conference.

Verdell is coming off a 1,220-yard season in 2019 including 197 carries and eight touchdowns. He also claimed the Pac-12 Championship MVP trophy after rushing for 208 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries against the nation’s best defense (Utah Utes). 

He can (and likely will) continue the trend of Moorhead’s list of running backs to have impactful careers in the NFL.