Penn State’s Miles Sanders, who rushed for 1,274 yards in his first season as the team’s starting running back, announced Thursday that he is giving up his final year of eligibility to enter the 2019 NFL draft.
Sanders, named second-team All-Big Ten, became the fifth member of the team to declare for the draft. He joined defensive linemen Shareef Miller (Frankford, George Washington High Schools) and Kevin Givens, and offensive linemen Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood) and Connor McGovern.
“I’ve made the decision to forgo my senior year and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft,” Sanders said in a statement posted on Twitter. “As I prepare for the road ahead, I truly believe this is the best next step for my future.”
Sanders, who was rated as the nation’s No. 1 high school running back when he signed with Penn State in 2016, backed up Saquon Barkley in his first two seasons and returned kickoffs as a freshman. He moved into the starting lineup last year and became the 14th player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
The 5-foot-11, 207-pound runner from Pittsburgh rushed for a career-high 200 yards and three touchdowns in the Nittany Lions’ Big Ten opener against Illinois. He posted four other games of more than 100 yards, including 162 against Michigan State when he broke off a career-best 78-yard run. He also caught 29 passes for 139 yards.
In a statement, head coach James Franklin called Sanders “a student of the game.”
“He made the most of his opportunities when his time came,” he said. “He did a great job leading the running back room this season. We are very proud of Miles and how he has grown during his entire Penn State career. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do at the next level.”
If there was a knock against Sanders this season, it was that he turned the ball over four times on fumbles.