Election campaigns may have ended this week, but the one for Saquon Barkley has just begun.
Penn State football's Twitter account this week put out an illustration of Barkley's image behind a podium with the Heisman Trophy logo, and in front of a crowd holding signs declaring "Saquon for Heisman."
It's not much, or as head coach James Franklin says, "I don't know if I would necessarily call one graphic a campaign." And it's probably too late in the game to consider Barkley a contender given that Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has lapped the field of Heisman candidates.
But the Nittany Lions' sophomore running back, the Big Ten leader in rushing, could very well make it into the top 10 when the Heisman votes are counted next month, and become one of the front-runners in 2017.
Barkley said that being considered for the Heisman Trophy was a "dream," but he added that he wasn't spending too much time thinking about it.
"I saw it and it was really cool and I'm really appreciative for it," he said. "But I'm really not paying too much attention to that, just focusing on Indiana and getting ready for the game this week."
It has been quite a four-game stretch for the 5-foot-11, 223-pound Barkley. He has rushed for 675 yards during that time, averaging 8.3 yards per carry and 168.8 yards per game, and is up to 1,055 yards for the season. He also tops the conference in all-purpose yards (147.7 per game), having piled up 488 yards in the last two weeks.
He has played a key role in the 10th-ranked Lions' five-game winning streak, which will be put on the line Saturday at Indiana.
Barkley said his patience in finding the hole, his trust in offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead's no-huddle attack, and the continued improvement of the offensive line have contributed to his output.
"They're doing a tremendous job," Barkley said of the line. "I'm so grateful to them. As a running back, your job is to make your guy miss, and we kind of just work with each other. Also, it's kind of just trusting the system. We're getting a feel for the system and starting to trust it, so we're really jelling well there."
The offensive line has lost both starting tackles, Andrew Nelson and Brendan Mahon, to undisclosed injuries. But their backups, Paris Palmer and Chasz Wright, have impressed with their consistent play.
"Our confidence level . . . we feel like we can compete with any other team in the country," Barkley said. "Being able to have guys play and if someone happens to go down, we're confident in the backups, someone coming in, the next-man-up mentality. We really have depth, so that's a reason for our success recently."
Barkley should get on at least one postseason list next week as one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award given to the nation's best running back. Three finalists will be chosen later this month. He also is a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award.
Barkley said the 2016 class of the nation's outstanding running backs is "really good and there's so many playmakers," but he doesn't know their statistics. He does know about Jackson, with whom he played in the 2015 All-American Bowl for high school seniors.
He said Jackson's lofty stats - 1,181 yards rushing, 2,753 yards passing, a 437-yard average in total offense - are "no surprise to me."
"What that guy is doing in college football right now is ridiculous," Barkley said. "I've probably never seen a player at that position doing what he's doing this year."
Barkley could very well earn similar attention nationally next year and receive Heisman consideration. His hat, er, helmet, is in the ring.