Athlete of the week: David Miller, Rogers, football: Right on the line
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
If David Miller wasn’t wearing No. 74, you might peg him as a linebacker or fullback. Actually, this 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior is a two-way starter on the line for the conference and section champion Rogers Royals. In fact, he’s their most versatile and productive trenchman.
“David is truly a utility guy on both the offensive and defensive lines,” said coach Marc Franz. “He goes wherever we need him. He is the leader of our lines, and they’re what make our team click.”
Franz notes that Miller has “mid-range” size, speed and strength. “But his technique is outstanding, and his heart is huge,” said the coach. “He works awfully hard at the fundamentals.”
Miller is a two-year starter on defense, at tackle and end this year. He’s the left guard (sometimes right) on offense and had left tackle duties added during Rogers’ 29-14 section finals win over Delano last week.
“What I enjoy most are pancake blocks, and the sacks, putting somebody on their back to help the team.”
When the coaches needing him at tackle, due to a couple injuries, Miller was given a crib sheet that he studied for a couple days. He quizzed himself both off the field and on and was ready at game time. “That speaks to his intelligence, too,” said Franz, “knowing the guard and tackle rules, and the responsibilities of the defensive end and tackle position.”
About those fundamentals, Miller relates: “There’s so much to (blocking), it would make your head rattle.” Coming off the ball hard, placing your hands on the chest plate to act like a steering wheel to push your guy where you want him, thrusting your head to the hole on the opposite side of where you’re moving him, taking the first step with the leg on the same side where your head goes, unless you’re pulling, then the first step is to get some space to run … there’s so much to absorb and master before you’re an effective blocker.
Defensively, you come off the ball hard, extend yourself, and read and react. “It’s second-nature now but it really sucked at first,” he relates. As a sophomore he’d spar with huge tackles like Andy Peppin and Matt Sharp in practice. “That was not fun at all,” he grins. “But once you ‘get’ it, defensive line is fun.”
Miller is a co-captain and enjoys the leader role. “Helping the younger guys, coaching them up, so they’ll be better players, I take pride in that.”
Miller, who wants to be a history teacher, is also a defenseman in hockey and picked up another conference title on the ice last winter.
For career highlights, Miller lists “just being able to play with all these guys; we grew up together and you learn to love them.” Also hugely gratifying was “winning conference and section for the third time this year,” in the three years he’s lettered.
One football thrill has eluded him. He has never scoring a touchdown in all the years he’s played. “Man, I wish I could!” he exclaims. “Even in youth football they always put me on the line. I would love to ‘scoop and score’ sometime.”
There’s plenty of mischief for the blockers, too. “We pull a lot, and we have blocking schemes where (defenders) are running upfield looking the other way. We come up and blindside them. That’s really fun.”
THE MILLER SCORECARD
Personal file – Age: 17 … Family: parents Thomas and Julie; brother Ryan, 20; sister Taylor, 13 … Sports: football, hockey … Academics: 3.5 GPA …. College plans: undecided where, history major, maybe football
Favorite stuff — Class: history, math … TV: “Tosh.0” … Movie: “Friday Night Lights” … Food: cheeseburgers at Maynards (“My dad owns it!”) .. Drink: Gatorade grape … Reading: ESPN Magazine … Teams: Vikings, Wild, Gophers … Athlete: Clay Mathews …. Kickback: fishing at the cabin … Place he’d like to visit: Australia