Giants Coach ‘Loves Penn State Guys,’ Considering Barkley-Sanders Duo
After starring as Penn State’s primary running back this season, Miles Sanders might find himself in a familiar position next season:
splitting carries with backing up Saquon Barkley.
Sanders told NJ.com reporter Matt Lombardo at the NFL Scouting Combine that when he met with the Giants, running backs coach Craig Johnson expressed an affinity for Penn State players and an interest in teaming him up with Barkley.
“[Johnson] loves Saquon,” Sanders said. “He loves Penn State guys, he said he was looking at Saquon since he was a sophomore. He sees the same things in me.”
Although many Penn State fans would surely love to see the two former teammates in the same backfield once again, not everyone is sold. Sanders’ mother seemed skeptical when she quote-tweeted a tweet from Lombardo and implied James Franklin’s staff had made a similar promise.
When Sanders came to Happy Valley as a five-star recruit and the nation’s top-ranked back, the prospects of a tandem rushing attack of him and Barkley seemed endless. In their two years together, however, Sanders saw the field on only 64 snaps. Twenty-seven of those came in the Fiesta Bowl, when the coaching staff seemed to limit Barkley’s use in his final college game.
Although his college career didn’t get off to the start he envisioned, Sanders is grateful for his time with Barkley and seems open to joining the reigning Rookie of the Year in New York.
“Obviously coming in, I was expecting to play a lot as a freshman since I was highly recruited, but when I first got there, it wasn’t how I expected,” Sanders told Lombardi. “But, I wound up learning so much stuff just from picking his brain, seeing how he learns, how he prepares for games, how he studies film, how he works. I kind of took that upon myself to work on my game, be more in the playbook, be a student of the game, and just trying to get faster and stronger.”
Sanders’ time waiting in the wings clearly paid off. While participating in the Combine Friday, he had the best time of any running back in the three-cone drill at 6.89 seconds and the third-best time in the short shuttle. He also clocked a 4.49 40-yard-dash time and logged 20 bench press reps.
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The close game certainly made things exciting, which is more than you can say about the first two games, but nothing seemed “fun” about watching each team try to let the other win.
Football has its flaws, but it also has the innate ability to bring people together for 12 Saturdays a year.
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