Miles Sanders, the heir apparent to Saquon Barkley, has a pressure-packed 2018 season on the horizon — and his teammates couldn't be more confident in the up-and-comer.
Sanders, the No. 1 running back recruit in the 2016 recruiting class, finally has a chance to make good on those projections and prove himself. Barkley is the future of the New York Giants, and Sanders is the future of Penn State's backfield.
And the former backup's teammates — from Trace McSorley to John Reid — lauded Sanders' work ethic, strength, speed and promise. For reference, the word "excited" was used six times by seven Nittany Lions over the course of interviews prior to Saturday's annual Lift For Life event, which raises money to fight rare diseases.
Here's what those teammates had to say about Barkley's replacement:
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QB Tommy Stevens
I think Miles has been ready, even last season when Saquon was here. Many of you guys know, he's so talented. Now ,finally being able to step into this role and being able to take it and hopefully run with it, I'm excited for him. I know he's going to do well. Can't say enough good things about Miles. He's big, strong, fast, and he's going to do a good job.
LB Koa Farmer
I lift in the same group as Miles, and every time he lifts, I just watch him lift. He's getting after it. You can tell he's taking that next step in his game. He's really trying to take over. You'll see what he's about this fall. You'll see what he's about.
QB Trace McSorley
Miles came to work with the same attitude he's always had. He's one of those guys who'll keep his mouth shut, but he's going to work and impress you with what he does. He continues to get faster. He's filling out, getting bigger and stronger. He's a guy that has been overshadowed by the guy in front of him. But, I mean, I'm excited to see what Miles is going to do. There are a lot of people who haven't gotten a glimpse of what he can do. Even us to a certain extent, we haven't seen what Miles can do. I'm excited to see him show out and get his opportunity.
OL Connor McGovern
He's always out there working hard. But then, you've seen over the past few years the sparks, the greatness. That's going to come every Saturday. And with the improved offensive line, we'll make bigger holes for him. He's going to have a big year. ... I'm very excited.
CB John Reid
We've been watching in practice, doing his thing on the field for a while now. We feel really good about it. I'm excited to watch him. I think he's going to have a really good year. We always talk about making sure he's focusing on his game, because obviously a lot of people are always going to be comparing him to Saquon the whole time. But he's Miles Sanders. He runs a little different, does things a little different. I've told him to be him and be confident. And I think it's going to work out really well for him.
OL Steven Gonzalez
I don't think we'll see much dropoff from Saquon. He's a very talented dude. He works very hard, just as hard as (Barkley). I think he'll be a special talent. I just think he needs some time to adjust to the starting role and getting that many snaps. He scored in the Fiesta Bowl, and that's good momentum to build off of.
OL Ryan Bates
He's absolutely ready. He's been ready. I'm very excited to see what he can do this year.