Penn State head football coach James Franklin spoke with Eagles Draft Central hosts Fran Duffy and Amy Campbell to discuss Miles Sanders and Saquon Barkley.
Imagine being the head football coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, having a generational type of talent like Saquon Barkley, and knowing you have the former number-one running back recruit in the country, Miles Sanders. That’s exactly the situation James Franklin was in two seasons ago. Following the most recent NFL Draft, where the Eagles took two Nittany Lions with their five picks (they’d sign two more after the draft’s conclusion), PSU’s head coach, James Franklin spoke with Fran Duffy and Amy Franklin of Eagles Draft Central.
Two Pennsylvania guys, who were former teammates, now play on opposite sides, and hopefully, we’ll see some great duels over the next few seasons with Sanders donning the midnight green (and maybe eventually that kelly green shade) and with Barkley representing ‘Big Blue’ with the New York Giants.
‘You’re going to love them (both Sanders and defensive end Shareef Miller). They’re great players, but they’re better people and you’re going to really enjoy getting to know these guys over the next couple of years’ Franklin said on Saturday.
Sanders didn’t earn a starting spot in the Nittany Lions offense until this past season when he was a junior. Once he was given his opportunity, he responded with 220 rushing attempts, 1,274 yards, and nine touchdowns.
Franklin had this to say:
"Obviously, we’ve been fortunate… We had a guy like Saquon Barkley, and then, we were able to go out and recruit the number-one running back in the country as a recruit.. That was Miles, and Miles was able to come here, him and Saquon had a great relationship. They worked really well together. Miles was always ready for his opportunity when it came, and then, when Saquon went on to the NFL and it was Miles opportunity to step up (he was ready)."
Perhaps it was the next line that said it all:
"I remember Saquon, kind of all the time looking over his shoulder and saying to me ‘this guy’s got a chance to be special’, so we’ve been blessed and fortunate to work with him (Sanders), but we knew very early on that he had tremendous upside, tremendous potential, and his work ethic demeanor and drive is what sets him apart."
These days, the NFL doesn’t seem as excited as they once were to go with running backs early unless they’re certain they’re once in a generation types of tailbacks. Sanders may not be seen as that, which is why he slipped to Round 2, but by joining a nice stable with Philadelphia, and by having Duce Staley to guide him, we may be looking at one of those ‘steals’ a la Alvin Kamara.