Penn State fans will have to wait to find out the futures of some of their favorite Nittany Lions as both running back Miles Sanders and defensive end Shareef Miller will announce their NFL Draft plans following the Citrus Bowl.
Sanders and Miller are both eligible to declare for the NFL Draft but otherwise -in theory- set to return for their senior seasons in 2019.
In the case of Miller, the Philadelphia native says he has already made his decision but will wait until after the bowl to announce it. Sanders was non-committal about whether or not he had decided but like Miller, plans on playing in the Citrus Bowl and announcing at some point after the bowl.
Sanders has rushed for 1223 yards so far this season and is rated the 11th best running back in his class according Draft Wire. While his playmaking abilities are somewhat limited compared to his predecessors, Sanders is just 49 yards from surpassing Saquon Barkley’s rushing total in 2017. Sanders would need a 274 yards to surpass Barkley’s 2016 total without the benefit of an extra game.
It remains to be seen what Sanders will do, but at a position that has seen its value decrease over the past few years, Sanders might feel inclined to strike while the iron is hot and while his stock is reasonable as hot as it will get. He could also feel that his draft stock might increase if he becomes more of a threat in the receiving game in 2019 with just 22 receptions in 2018.
Penn State would likely turn to Ricky Slade is Sanders were to depart but the Nittany Lions are not short on options at running back.
For Miller, he is coincidentally ranked the 11th best defensive end in the draft class by Draft Tek. Miller put up seven sacks and 14 total tackles for a loss in 2018 but was a consistent threat on the edge all season. If he were to return, Miller would pose quite the tandem with Yetur Gross-Matos opposite him, Gross-Matos perhaps Penn State’s best defensive player for the vast majority of the season.
James Franklin told reporters that he met with all of the draft eligible players individually following the conclusion of the regular season.
“Obviously it’s a fluid conversation that’s constantly evolving and changing,” Franklin said. “We had put together a whole presentation, because to me, it’s not about convincing them to stay, it’s, let me give you all the information that I can get based on my resources and contact so you can make an educated decision and a great decision.”
What those decisions are, only time will tell.
Kevin Givens and Connor McGovern are other juniors of note. Punter Blake Gillikin told reporters earlier this year he intends to return for his senior campaign.
“Right now, I’m mostly focused on the game. After, I’ll make some decisions,” McGovern told reporters on Friday.