Miles Sanders backed up Saquon Barkley for three years at Penn State. Now the Giants running back is backing up the Eagles rookie.
Barkley, the reigning NFL Rookie of the Year, predicted that Sanders would earn the same honor in his first season carrying the ball for the Eagles. Barkley posted “ROY back2back ??” on Instagram. Another Eagles rookie, quarterback Clayton Thorson, chimed in with “Yessir!” The Eagles took Sanders with the 54th overall pick in April’s draft and many have him penciled in for big things in 2019.
Sanders is expected to form a formidable one-two punch with veteran Jordan Howard in what should be an explosive Eagles backfield. It’s a unique situation for a player taken so high in the draft, a new role that the 22-year-old running back was born for. One that a generational talent like Barkley thinks he can thrive in.
“It’s definitely going to be competitive. That’s what I like about rooms likes this. It was like this at Penn State. It was a very talented running back room. But I’m just used to that stuff: competing and making each other better. Nobody’s really going to be the star running back, I think,” said Sanders on NFL Total Access. “I think the ball’s going to be spread out a lot, and that’s what I kind of like, too.”
Miles Sanders Shooting for Rookie of the Year
Sanders stepped right in at Penn State and rushed for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns in his only year as the feature back. It was a struggle sitting on the bench at times, but no one was better suited for it. Eagles assistant head coach (and former running back) Duce Staley was shocked to see Sanders still on the board when the team selected him in the second round of the draft, with visions of Barkley dancing around Eagles fans’ heads.
He was a load to bring down in college, too. Sanders was the 13th-best rusher after contact, averaging 3.8 yards after the first tackle. While Barkley will be shooting for NFL MVP, his former backup will be eyeing up that Rookie of the Year trophy. Their college coach, James Franklin, stopped by Eagles minicamp earlier this summer and shed some light on the young running back.
“Miles Sanders is well-rounded. He’s got the body type,” Franklin told 94 WIP. “His testing numbers were through the roof. He showed flashes of brilliance on film. Made some big-time runs in big-time games. He’s intelligent, got a great family, no baggage whatsoever.”
Franklin, who grew up an Eagles fan living 20 minutes outside Philadelphia in Langhorne, PA, also talked about the relationship between Sanders and Barkley.
“I remember Saquon, kind of all the time looking over his shoulder and saying to me ‘this guy’s got a chance to be special’, so we’ve been blessed and fortunate to work with him [Sanders],” Franklin told PennLive. “We knew very early on that he had tremendous upside, tremendous potential, and his work ethic demeanor and drive is what sets him apart.”
Miles Sanders Not Related to Barry Sanders
It is understandable for fans to think Miles Sanders would have some relation to former Lions great Barry Sanders. Miles plays running back just like Barry did, but the Penn State player is not related to the Hall-of-Famer. This does not mean Miles did not receive some inspiration from the player with whom he shares the same last name.
“I looked up to Barry Sanders a lot,” Miles explained to the Post-Gazette. “I’ve watched Todd Gurley. I watched LeSean McCoy, Le’Veon [Bell], Ezekiel [Elliott]. I watch all those guys. When I want to watch backs in the NFL, that’s what I watch film on, just to see how they see the defense, how they run through holes and break tackles and stuff.”
As for Barry, he has four children: Barry J., Nigel, Noah and Nicholas. Barry J. Sanders followed in his father’s footsteps and played college football.
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