Miles Sanders Introduces Himself To Philadelphia In Players’ Tribune Piece
Former Penn State football star Miles Sanders shared plenty of insight into his life and the start of his NFL career in a piece for The Players’ Tribune titled “What’s Up, Philly?“
Sanders opened the story by saying that he “had a feeling” he was going to become a Philadelphia Eagle once the 2019 NFL Draft rolled around. The running back’s pre-draft workout with the organization went really well, and the vibe he got from the organization made him want to be an Eagle. Sure enough, that came good when Philadelphia used the 53rd overall pick on him.
Another part of why Sanders wanted to get drafted by the Eagles was his Pennsylvania roots.
“One of the reasons the Eagles were so high on my list was because … PA, man,” he wrote. “The Steelers and Eagles were right at the top because I’m a Pennsylvania boy, through and through — born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, went to (WE ARE!) Penn State, and now blessed to be a Philadelphia Eagle.”
Sanders reflected on his high school career after sharing the story of his NFL Draft experience. He naturally got a lot of attention as a five-star recruit, including being dubbed as “the next LeSean McCoy.” McCoy (who, coincidentally, was also picked No. 53 overall by the Eagles) established himself as a star in the NFL while Sanders was making his rise through the high school ranks.
All of those comparisons to made Sanders get caught up in trying to become “the next LeSean McCoy” instead of focusing on himself and what he can control. He felt the exact same way when he arrived at Penn State.
“I gotta admit, sitting on the bench behind Saquon [Barkley] was probably the most difficult thing I’ve gone through in my football career,” Sanders wrote. “For two seasons, I watched my brother take the world by storm. And I was happy to see him shine. He’s a special player. But man, it was tough to go from being the man in high school — one of the top backs in the state ready to blow up in college — to … being a backup.
“Looking back, I’m thankful for that struggle because I used that time to grow as a person, and also to get stronger and more explosive as a running back. I really took my game to another level, and I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of in the process.”
After he declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year in 2017, Barkley pulled Sanders aside and gave him some fairly simple advice. Penn State’s former No. 26 told Sanders to “just go out there and be you. Don’t try to be anybody else.”
This advice might seem simple on the surface, but it couldn’t have been more valuable to Sanders.
“I don’t think I ever had it in my head that I needed to be Saquon,” he wrote, “but can you imagine a tougher player to follow? Those are big shoes to fill. And for him to make it a point to let me know that he had the confidence in me to make a name for myself and help carry our team … that really meant a lot. I’ll always be thankful for Saquon. He has been a huge motivator for me.”
Now that he’s an Eagle, Sanders finds his motivation from his veteran teammates. Players like Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, and Lane Johnson have served as mentors for the rookie back, but he’s also motivated by the success they’ve had. Philadelphia’s offense is loaded with Pro Bowlers, All-Pro players, and Super Bowl champions — simply being surrounded by that level of success has motivated Sanders to try and reach that level.
Sanders and the Eagles will open their 2019 regular season against the Washington Redskins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Before the opening kickoff, however, Sanders wanted to share one last simple message in his introduction to Philly.
“There’s gonna be no more comparisons. No more ‘next this,’ or ‘next that,'” he wrote. “Because the Eagles didn’t draft me to be the next anything. They drafted me to be Miles Sanders. Boobie. And I’m gonna work my tail off to make sure you remember the name.”
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