As expected, Miles Sanders and Shareef Miller were tight-lipped about what their future holds.
Speaking after the Nittany Lions’ 27-24 loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl, the junior prospects did not clarify their stance on staying at Penn State or leaving early for the 2019 NFL draft. Though both Sanders and Miller said decisions would come this week. The deadline for underclassmen to declare is Jan. 14.
“It’s up in the air after this loss,” Miller said with a smile.
Added Sanders: “It’s going to be the hardest decision of my life.”
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Neither Miller nor Sanders are expected to be drafted on Day 1 or even Day 2. But it would be a surprise to see either of them stay.
Sanders and Miller, along with guard Connor McGovern and wideout Juwan Johnson, would be selected if they skipped their senior seasons. McGovern would be picked the highest likely, but Sanders — the No. 6 running back on Mel Kiper’s Big Board — has a chance to move up with an impressive showing at the NFL Combine.
Now, Penn State has viable replacements should any of these juniors depart. Ricky Slade, Devyn Ford and Noah Cain can continue carrying the “RBU” torch passed down by Sanders and Saquon Barkley. Defensive ends Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney, Shane Simmons, Jayson Oweh and Daniel Joseph make up the team’s deepest position group. Freshmen Jahan Dotson and Justin Shorter proved capable when Johnson dealt with drops and injury. And Mike Miranda has seen action at guard when needed in 2018.
If any of them stayed, it would be an added bonus to an already talented 2019 roster.
But why would any of them come back if they’re guarantees to be picked? Sanders offered one reason: “A national championship.”
“I love these guys,” Sanders said underneath the Camping World Stadium bleachers. “I chose this school for a reason. I put my all out there. We’re just going to see. I’m gonna pray on it, and we’ll see my decision.”