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All Hail The New King

Miles Sanders isn’t just here, he’s here to take over.

Penn State v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Miles Sanders waited.

And he waited.

And waited.

Until finally, the time was his.

The Woodland Hills, Pa. native could’ve attended any school in the country.

He was the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation in 2016 according to both 247Sports ratings and the industry composite rankings.

With the ball in his hands he was (and still is) electric, a touchdown waiting to happen.

He held offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame just to name a few.

Instead he chose the Nittany Lions and, on signing day, committed himself to playing on the same team as Saquon Barkley, who had already began to write his story in the Penn State history books during the 2015 season.

So Sanders sat.

And he sat.

And sat.

But then it became his time.

Following the 2017 season, Barkley did what many expected him to do and declared for the 2018 NFL Draft where, after a stunning NFL combine, he was selected No. 2 overall by the New York Giants.

And thus the path to the starting job became clear for Sanders, who had long been considered the heir apparent.

But the Barkley questions didn’t go away.

Far from it.

When asked in the weeks leading up to the season how often he had been asked about Barkley, Sanders smiled and said “I don’t really know the number, but I know every interview name pops up.”

And then the season started and something funny began happen.

In the opening game of the 2018 season, Sanders’ first as the starter, he carried the ball 19 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning score to defeat Appalachian State in overtime.

That carry landed the junior front and center on the cover of Sports Illustrated, nary a Saquon Barkley reference in sight.

A week later, Sanders returned home to Pittsburgh and under the bright lights on prime time television, turned in a 16-carry, 118-yard performance, a new career high.

James Franklin dialed back the workload a bit against Kent State, with Sanders toting the rock just 14 times for 86 yards in a blowout victory over the Golden Flashes.

Then conference play started, and once again Sanders found himself in prime time in front of a national audience.

Once again, he did not disappoint.

The soft-spoken, hard-running ball carrier dominated against Illinois, setting brand new career highs with 22 carries, 200 yards and three touchdowns.

The performance made it crystal clear that Miles Sanders didn’t come to Penn State to stand in anybody’s shadow.

Through four games, Sanders currently sits sixth in the country with 495 rushing yards, and third among Power 5 backs. His 7.0 yards per carry average is fourth among backs with at least 50 carries on the year and second among Power 5 backs with at least 50 carries.

The Miles Sanders era is upon us at Penn State, and while it may not last long, it’s very clear that Sanders intends to be much more than a footnote in the Penn State history books that Barkley spent so much time rewriting.

The king is dead, long live the king.