Saquon Barkley left an enormous legacy at Penn State, establishing himself as one of the dominant running backs in program history before declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. His likely replacement, rising junior Miles Sanders, will no doubt be peppered with comparisons next season.
But Sanders might have the potential to replicate some of Barkley’s success, according to CBS Sports’ Barton Simmons:
There is no replacing Barkley, but don’t let last season’s 33-carry workload from Sanders fool you. This is a talented back who has been waiting his turn as Barkley received heavy workloads in State College, Pennsylvania. Sanders was an Under Armour All-American, actually had better athletic testing numbers than Barkley coming out of high school and brings similar explosiveness to Barkley … if not quite the same power.
Yes, Sanders’ workload has been limited in his two seasons at Penn State. But his production is encouraging. In 2016 he rushed for an average of 7.4 yards per carry, and last season he found the end zone twice. He also flashed his versatility, corralling six passes for 30 yards.
It’ll definitely be an adjustment process for the Penn State offense lining up without Barkley in 2018. Trace McSorley even called Barkley a “quarterback’s best friend.” But Sanders is out to prove he’s the next great Nittany Lions running back.
Barkley is expected to be the first running back selected in the NFL draft, which kicks off April 26. Landof10’s latest mock draft has Barkley going No. 4 overall to the Cleveland Browns.