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PSU running back greats excited about Miles Sanders

UNIVERSITY PARK – Two of the greatest running backs in Penn State history, Ki-Jana Carter and Blair Thomas, raved about Saquon Barkley, of course, and said they are excited to see Miles Sanders carry on the school’s terrific tailback tradition.

“Saquon was the man. Now it’s Miles’ turn,” Carter said Monday night during a State College Spikes event at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. “Miles was the player of the year in Pennsylvania, was the No. 1 running back. Now he has his time to shine, so he has to take advantage of it.

“It reminds me of me when I was in college, had to sit behind Richie Anderson. But when they called my number, I took advantage of it.”

Thomas also had to wait his turn, just like Sanders, when he first arrived at Penn State, and that time was spent learning the many nuances of the game.

“I went through that same process,” Thomas said. “When I came here, D.J. Dozier was that featured running back. I was a young player, I didn’t start playing with equipment on until ninth grade. So I had a lot to learn, and I had the opportunity to sit behind D.J. Dozier, look at how he picked up the blitz.

“It’s not just running the ball. A lot of guys can run the ball. But it’s all the other facets of the position that you have to learn in order to be effective on the field.”

Sanders takes over as the starter for PSU this year, and he should have a chance to put up big numbers in the team’s potent offense.

“I think he’s going to do well, and this offense is now giving him this opportunity to take leadership of that position and own it,” Thomas said. “He came out as a highly touted prospect, and now it’s time for him to show what he can do. I think he’s been biting at the bit to get in there. Even though he has a little different style of running than Saquon, I think he’s still going to do some great things.”

Carter and Thomas are in town to play in a celebrity softball game this evening prior to the New York-Penn League All-Star Game, hosted by the Spikes.

Carter was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft following a brilliant senior season in 1994, rushing for 1,539 yards and 23 TDs for the undefeated Nittany Lions.

Thomas was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1990 draft, after rushing for 1,414 yards as a junior and 1,341 yards as a senior.

While both are among the best PSU running backs ever, the widespread current opinion is that Barkley took over the No. 1 spot in recent years, before being selected with the second overall pick by the New York Giants in April.

“I always called him Lex Luger, if we remember the old WCW days — the Total Package,” Carter said. “That’s what Saquon is to me.”

As for how Barkley will do in the NFL, Carter said, “He’s going to be deadly. He’s going to be exciting to watch.”

Carter was able to connect with Barkley on occasion the past few years, trying to offer guidance and support.

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