Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders have walked off the field together hundreds of times. But Monday was different.
McSorley, now the Baltimore Ravens backup’ quarterback, and Sanders — already arguably the Philadelphia Eagles’ top running back — met around midfield at NovaCare Complex to celebrate their Penn State ties and talk about their NFL experiences. And the two rookies smiled while labeling the meetup at the joint practice surreal.
“We were teammates for a few years and now we’re both living the dream,” McSorley said. “So it’s really cool to be able to watch each other, root for each other and check up on him. I got to get him on my fantasy team or something like that.”
Added Sanders: “Same, man. Same. I don’t do the fantasy stuff but, if I would, I’d definitely put my boy on there.”
Both former Nittany Lions have already started to make a name for themselves at the next level. Sanders, a late second-round pick, earned the starting nod in the most recent preseason game and is projected by many to be the top back in a committee approach. McSorley, a sixth-round flier, has taken over backup duties with Robert Griffin III out a few more weeks with a fractured thumb. One Ravens beat writer, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, already believes McSorley has shown enough to warrant a roster spot.
Sanders, who addressed reporters alongside his old quarterback, seemed to agree.
“They said he’s not a quarterback — they were trying him as a receiver, a safety — but he’s proving everyone wrong,” Sanders said. “That’s how Trace is. That man’s a quarterback, and he’s showing it.”
McSorley smiled and returned the favor in complimenting Sanders’ play.
“They’re getting a dog,” McSorley said about the western Pennsylvania native. “They’re starting to figure that out now. But he’s a special player. Philly’s going to love him; I know that.”
McSorley and Sanders, who spent the last three years together in Happy Valley, were both on-hand in Philadelphia ahead of Thursday night’s preseason game between their two teams. Although they practiced on opposing fields inside the complex, they were able to spend about a half-hour together before a thunderstorm rolled in.
But that still gave the two time to trade some notes, including on their memorable rookie talent shows. Sanders laughed while recalling how he was booed off the stage during his half-hearted rendition of Tupac Shakur’s “Keep Ya Head Up” — “I did better the second time around; just know that,” Sanders said, smiling — while McSorley admitted he played it safe.
“Mine? I did ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey,” he said. “It’s something I knew I wouldn’t mess up the words.”
Sanders, wearing long white sleeves in the 93-degree weather, showed sure hands and explosiveness on special teams. On the adjacent field, McSorley earned a smattering of applause — including from one young fan in an Eagles cap and Penn State T-shirt — on a memorable scramble that saw him roll right before taking off.
When one reporter asked about McSorley’s thoughts on NFL teams utilizing athletic quarterbacks such as the New Orleans Saints’ Taysom Hill, who sometimes catches or runs, the Penn State QB stopped short of saying that was in his future. He wasn’t quite ready to commit to being the Ravens’ future “Lion.”
“It’s hard to tell right now,” McSorley said. “I’m just focused on doing what I can for the coaches and getting out and getting ready every day. So we’ll see what happens with everything else.”
While Sanders and McSorley talked, fellow Penn State alum Stefen Wisniewski stood only a few feet away — chiming in every now and then, prior to the media scrum. Former wideout DeAndre Thompkins, who made at least one nice sideline grab, didn’t stop to talk outside.
But, for Sanders and McSorley, it felt good to get the offense together. The two couldn’t help but reflect on their journey as Nittany Lions.
“Just think; we were at Penn State a year ago and now we’re all living our dreams — but just on different teams,” Sanders said. “It’s cool to see my different teammates living their dreams when we can get together like this. It’s really cool.”
Added McSorley: “It’s really cool spending years together in college and we’re all on separate teams now, but we’re still rooting for those guys.”