For 21-year-old Pennsylvania native Miles Sanders, his mind was locked in on becoming the starting running back for the Penn State Nittany Lions since starting high school. Despite his elusiveness, resiliency and proving to be a powerhouse running back, the 211-pounder learned that he had to wait his turn in line. In other words, Sanders had to convince not only head coach James Franklin but also the staff that he was worthy of being the starting running back. It also didn’t help that he was behind future No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley on the Nittany Lions roster.
But was it worth the wait for Sanders?
According to Sanders, the wait was a bit of a challenge, although it made him work a lot harder. Sanders knew that he was a work in the process. He felt the responsibility to amp up his game as well as to improve on his leadership skills. As the backup running back for the Nittany Lions, he expressed his overall thoughts.
“I’m used to it from high school, but for me not being a starter, I’m just getting back to being comfortable with it,” Miles said, via Philly.com.
Now, the wait is officially over. This upcoming season, Sanders is ready to the show the world what he can do on the heels of Saquon Barkley heading off to the NFL to join the New York Giants.
So let’s take a look at how Miles Sanders became one of this year’s players to watch out for in college football.
Miles “Boobie” Sanders
Full Name: Miles Sanders
Birthdate: May 1, 1997
Birth Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
School: Pennsylvania State University
As a youngster, Sanders was born to be a star football athlete. Upon enrolling at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he exploded out of the gate and became a top-notch player from the get-go.
As a freshman, he scored 12 touchdowns and rushed for 641 yards. A year later, his running numbers saw a huge boost, with 1,064 yards and 14 touchdowns. Then, in his junior year, he tallied 1,132 yards on just 97 carries and scored 18 touchdowns.
Without a doubt, he definitely made his senior year the most memorable time of his high school days. Along with tallying 1,523 yards and notching 16 touchdowns, he was the team captain and helped guide his team to an impressive, 11-1 mark on the season. Sanders was selected as the 2015 Mr. PA Football for Class AAA/AAAA.
Sanders finished his high school career with 4,573 yards on 508 carries and 59 touchdowns. After graduating from high school, he was rated the No. 1 running back in the nation by Rivals, Scout, and 247Sports.
Then, it was off to Penn State.
Even though Sanders didn’t get to see much playing time on the field, he still made the most of it. His collegiate debut was on Sept. 3, 2016 against Kent State University, where he returned two kickoffs for 36 yards. The next big moment for Sanders came on Sept. 24 at Michigan, when he made his first career reception for three yards on Penn State’s fourth-quarter touchdown drive and returned three kickoffs for 67 yards.
As his first year came to an end, he was ranked No. 7 in the Big Ten in kickoff return average. And his sophomore year was only going to get that much better.
In his third game of the season against the Georgia State Panthers, he toted the ball three times for 44 yards and one touchdown. Then, there was a big surprise waiting for him. He made his first official career start against Rutgers University on Nov. 11, 2017. That game, he rushed twice for 18 yards. Another major highlight from the 2017 season was that Sanders joined Ryan Buchholz, Will Fries, and Shareef Miller as first-time starters.
As Sanders awaits his new role as the starting running back for Penn State University, what will he be most remembered for in his first two seasons?
Not only does he own the Penn State season record with 33 kickoff returns in 2016. And if that’s not enough, his 688 kickoff return yards in 2016 ranks No. 2 on the school season list behind Chaz Powell (733 yards; 2011).
So what should fans expect Sanders to do as Penn State’s starting running back?
“Be Miles Sanders,” the new starting running back for the team said on media day. Sanders added, “I’m not trying to be nobody else but me. I’m just trying to get comfortable on the field. As soon as that happens, I hope the sky’s the limit.”