“The best in PA stay in PA and play for Penn State.”
This is a phrase that most Penn State Football fans have heard echoed from coaches, players, recruits, and other fans.
In James Franklin’s tenure, the Penn State running back room has taken this message to heart, where Penn State saw the likes of Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, Journey Brown, and Nick Singleton commit, and the first two head off to pro careers after starring in the Nittany Lions‘ offense.
Sanders was able to take the motto one step further, when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, with which he will start in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Lets take a look back through Miles Sanders’ journey to the Super Bowl.
Before he was a Nittany Lion or a Philadelphia Eagle, Miles Sanders was a highly sought-after five-star running back recruit from Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sanders finished as the No. 21 ranked prospect overall, and the top running back and player from Pennsylvania. Sanders was a first team all-state player and an Under Armor All American in high school. Sanders committed to Penn State during the summer before his junior year and never wavered on his commitment. He officially signed with Penn State on February 3, 2016.
Miles Sanders was the highest rated recruit in Penn State’s 2016 class that ranked 20th nationally.
During his freshman season at Penn State, Sanders saw time on special teams as a kick returner and at running back, providing relief for Barkley, who was just breaking out for the Nittany Lions.
Sanders played in 13 games for the Nittany Lions in 2016, and won the Big Ten Championship with the team that season. On the season, Sanders accounted for 208 yards from scrimmage, two touchdowns, and 688 return yards.
In his second season, Sanders usage stayed about the same as his freshman season on the offense, however he was swapped out on many kick returns for Saquon, who was attempting to mount a Heisman campaign in the 2017 season. On the season, Sanders accounted for 221 yards and two touchdowns.
With Barkley off to the NFL draft following the 2017 season, it was finally time for Sanders to become the feature back at Penn State.
In his lone season as the starting running back, Sanders accounted for 1413 total yards and nine touchdowns, and plenty of tape for NFL scouts to recognize just how talented he was. After his junior season, Sanders declared for the 2019 NFL draft.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, Sanders was selected 53rd overall, in the second round, by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was the second running back chosen behind Josh Jacobs. Sanders has spent the first four season of his professional career with the Eagles.
In his first four professional seasons, Sanders has accounted for 4650 total yards and 23 touchdowns. In his 2022 season alone, Sanders rushed for 1269 yards and 11 touchdowns, which played a role in the Eagles making it all the way to the Super Bowl.
At Super Bowl media day, Sanders talked about what James Franklin and Penn State have meant to him.
Miles Sanders: “I have to give a lot of credit to #PennState, and James Franklin. He does a great job bringing the best players to campus, education is really important to him, and that always stood out to me.” #Eagles #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/g0NzoAvgrK
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) February 7, 2023
After the Super Bowl, Sanders will have business decisions to make, as his contract is up with the Eagles.
Whether the Eagles do win the Lombardi this weekend may ultimately decide whether his future lies outside of Philadelphia.
If the Eagles win, there may not be enough money to go around to resign everyone. If the Eagles lose, Sanders might be hungry enough to get back to the Super Bowl to take a discount to stay for another ride.