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Miles Sanders, Lamont Wade Relish Opportunity To Play At Heinz Field

Penn State football’s upcoming trip to Heinz Field will give¬†junior running back Miles Sanders and sophomore safety Lamont Wade a rare opportunity to represent the Nittany Lions in a familiar stadium.

Both players hail from western Pennsylvania and will return to Heinz Field this Saturday when No. 13 Penn State takes on Pitt for the third time in as many seasons. 

The game will serve as a homecoming of sorts for both players, who represented their high schools in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League’s championship games at the 68,400-seat stadium.

Wade, who played high school ball at Clairton High School about 15 miles outside of Pittsburgh, made very happy memories at the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. During his high school career, Wade guided Clairton to three consecutive title game victories at Heinz Field before joining Penn State as a highly-touted recruit.

On the other hand, Sanders’ memories are nowhere near as happy.

“I remember losing,” he joked at a Tuesday press conference. “That was for a WPIAL championship game.”

Sanders finished as a WPIAL runner-up in 2015 with Woodland Hills High School, which is based in Pittsburgh. His college memories of the stadium aren’t much better, as Penn State dropped a 42-39 decision to Pitt during his freshman year in 2016.

Wade clearly has plenty of winning experience at Heinz Field, but he has yet to make an appearance at the stadium in college. The former Clairton standout is excited to play at the stadium as a Nittany Lion after watching Penn State’s last game there as a recruit.

“I grew up playing championship games on Heinz Field,” he said. “I’m familiar with the environment. It’s just going to be real good to get back out there and play the game.”

Sanders and Wade live together at Penn State along with redshirt freshman wideout KJ Hamler. Sanders was also Wade’s host during his official visit to Happy Valley.

“I knew him since high school,” Sanders said. “We’re kind of from, not the same area, but I played [against] teams from his area, like McKeesport. He’s my roommate now, and he’s just got that dog mentality since he’s been here. That’s just the way we grew up over there.”

Both players have friends on Pitt’s roster, but Wade is particularly close with sophomore wide receiver Aaron Mathews. Mathews started at quarterback and receiver during Clairton’s three-season run as WPIAL champions, but he shifted to wideout for Pat Narduzzi’s team.

Although he’s still close with his former teammate, Wade’s personal relationship changes nothing as far as preparation for the game is concerned.

“We played high school together, grew up together, played little league,
but no, that doesn’t change anything at all,” Wade said. “Same preparation every week, same mentality every week.”

Sanders also put aside any personal relationships he has with some of Pitt’s players to prepare for the game, but did acknowledge how special it will be to face off against his hometown buddies on Saturday.

“I know a pretty good amount of people on the team, but it doesn’t change,” Sanders said. “It’s just another opponent; I don’t look at it as a rivalry or nothing, but it’s a special game just playing against my friends that I know back at home.”

Penn State’s 99th matchup with Pitt kicks off at 8 p.m. Saturday at Heinz Field. The game will be broadcast on ABC.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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