As a former top 25 overall high school prospect, Miles Sanders committed to Penn State in 2015 and big expectations followed. It was assumed Sanders would use his well-rounded game and athleticism to dominate Big Ten competition. Despite the acclaim and expectations, however, it was actually teammate Saquon Barkley who dominated opposing teams, leaving Sanders relegated to a bench role up until this season. However, given the opportunity, Sanders dominated in 2018-19, and moving forward, Sanders looks ready to continue his shining play.
Despite the fact that the team lost the best rusher in college football, Penn State’s running game didn’t miss a beat last season and that’s thanks to Sanders. Using his awesome blend of patience, balance, and power, Sanders was able to put up over 1200 yards on the ground in his first season as a starter. To demonstrate what exactly makes Sanders so dangerous, take a look at the clip below.
This is a play that looked broken from the beginning. Despite approximately every single Michigan State defender being within about five yards of him, Sanders makes lemonade out of some serious lemons. It all starts with the vision. The reason some highly-draft running backs don’t succeed (think Trent Richardson or Leonard Fournette) is that they simply fail to see the play develop. Not Sanders, however, as seen above he takes advantage of not one but two cutback lanes, allowing him to pick up big yardage. Combine that with the balance he shows by staying on his feet and the power it takes to burst through that type of contact at all and you’re looking at a pretty special talent.
So why isn’t Sanders more highly-regarded in this class if he’s so good? Well, it all comes back to that time he spent behind Barkley the last few seasons. Sanders never got his shot to stand out on the national stage, and even when he took over as the starter, many viewed him not as his own player, but as the guy who took over for a school legend in Barkley.
That’s not to say Sanders is a perfect, can’t-miss player. Despite his obvious talents, he too often tries to do too much and ends up dancing around in the backfield. As great as his patience can be as a strength, it can also be his biggest weakness, and it’s clear he needs to work on taking what the defense gives him instead of always trying to break huge runs. Beyond that, Sanders, while a good athlete isn’t a great one, and his ball security is an issue that may land him in a coach’s doghouse if not corrected.
When it comes down to it, all it took for Miles Sanders to become a college football star was the opportunity to show his talents. As he moves forward into the next chapter of his career, all Sanders needs is a chance to shine.