Miles Sanders grew up in Pittsburgh and played his college football in Happy Valley. Now, he will kick off his professional career in Philadelphia. It's no surprise that after being drafted with the 53rd overall pick on Friday night, Sanders said that he feels "at home" with the Eagles.
"I had a real good connection with them," Sanders said. "The coaches are all laid back and cool. Very family-oriented. I felt at home. It's not too far from home, either. I fell in love with coach (Duce) Staley. He's a good coach and he's coached some great running backs in the past few years, too. I look forward to coming in and working with him."
Sanders was rated the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation and the top overall prospect in all of Pennsylvania by most recruiting services coming out of Pittsburgh's Woodland Hills High School. He enrolled at Penn State but found himself unable to get on the field because of a player who Eagles fans are well aware of – New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
"It was a very humbling experience," Sanders said. "I've always been humble my whole life. It just humbled me a lot more and it made me be way more mature. It built a lot of character. I was patient. I put a lot of patience through that time. I worked on getting more deep into the playbook and getting faster, stronger, bigger, all of that type of stuff. Just preparing myself for when it's finally my chance."
That chance finally came last season and Sanders seized the moment.
In his only year as a full-time starter, the 5-11, 211-pound Sanders gained 1,274 yards rushing (15th in the nation) on 220 carries for an average of 5.79 yards per carry and nine touchdowns in 13 games. His 98 rushing yards per contest ranked fourth in the Big Ten. An underclassman who will turn 22 on May 1, Sanders was a second-team All-Big Ten choice and Penn State's Most Valuable Offensive Player in 2018.
Sanders heard from Barkley shortly after being drafted and the two immediately discussed how their rivalry will continue only now as opponents instead of teammates.
"He called me and the first thing we really talked about was those two games each season. I can't wait, same division and everything," Sanders said. "I can't wait."
While Barkley carried the Giants' offense as a rookie in 2018, Sanders comes to Philadelphia as part of a backfield stable that recently added Jordan Howard in a trade.
"He is a great running back. ... He's been in this league for a good amount of time, his fourth or fifth year and he's done a lot in this league. Great running back like I said," Sanders said. "I can't wait to work with all the running backs in that room, (Corey) Clement, (Wendell) Smallwood, and Josh Adams. I can't wait to get in there and learn from them and I'm ready to compete with them. The only goal is to get a Super Bowl."