The most exciting moment of the weekend for Miles Sanders wasn’t when the Eagles drafted him.
It was when the Eagles drafted one of his best friends.
“I was excited when I got drafted,” Sanders said. “But now I’m even more excited that my old teammate's coming with me.
“It’s crazy, with him being from here, getting drafted by his hometown team, and now we’re teammates again. It’s really exciting.”
The Eagles drafted Sanders, a Penn State running back, in the second round on Friday and added Miller, his college teammate, in the fourth round on Saturday.
This is the first time in 40 years the Eagles have taken two Penn State players in the same draft. In 1979 they took wide receiver Scott Fitzkee in the fifth round and center Chuck Correal in the eighth.
Yeah man, I am super excited for Miles,” Miller said. “Me and him are really close and we’ve got a great relationship. It’s great that me and one of my teammates from Penn State will be going on this journey together.
This is also the first time any NFL team has taken two Penn State players in the first four rounds of the same draft since 1984 when the Chiefs picked linebacker Scott Radecic in the second round and cornerback Mark Robinson in the fourth round.
“He’s just a guy that’s going to come in and work, really,” Sanders said of Miller. “That’s just how he is. Come in and work hard every day, get extra work every day, get extra work before and after practice, and he shows his leadership on the field. That’s the type of guy he is.”
Sanders is a Pittsburgh native, but he said he and Miller actually used to joke about playing together after college here in Philly.
“We actually talked about it,” Sanders said with a laugh. “We actually did. ‘Hey, we could both go to the Eagles. I mean, it’s a possibility.’ For that to actually happen? It’s a blessing, it really is.”
Life as an NFL rookie isn’t easy. You’re dealing with a ton of pressure. You’re no longer in that college cocoon. You’re suddenly in new surroundings and not sure who you can trust. You have money for the first time.
There’s tremendous value in going through that with someone you’ve known for years.
Someone to lean on when things get tough. Someone to turn to when you face self-doubt.
“It definitely make it easier,” Sanders said. “We’re going through the same thing … again, but just on another level. A level we’ve been waiting for. It’s exciting. I can’t be more proud of him.”
The Eagles have drafted local kids before, but 2002 seventh-round pick Raheem Brock never signed here, and 2004 seventh-round pick Bruce Perry was only here briefly.
The fourth round is the highest the Eagles have drafted a city player in at least 40 years.
It’s not an easy position to be in. The spotlight shines a little brighter. The media demands multiply. Distractions can be tempting.
Sanders said he doesn’t worry about Miller when it comes to those challenges.
“‘Reef is a smart dude, he’s got a small circle of friends, I don’t think he’ll be going the wrong way or have distractions or anything,” he said. “He’s a good dude, mature.
“Plus I’ll be there with him and we’ll keep each other cool. It’s going to be great.”
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