December 25, 2007

A season full of learning for Miller

The transition from high school football to college ball was what Ryan Miller expected. It was extremely challenging.

"Learning the different types of run schemes and passing schemes at this level, it is like a whole subject in school, there is so much that you have to learn to be successful at this level," explained the 6-foot-8, 320-pound offensive tackle. "And in high school usually you can get away with some pretty bad technique.

"The upperclassmen have helped make [the transition to this level] so much easier, they have been teaching me the game. And I have learned some decent technique since I have been up here. [Offensive line] coach [Jeff] Grimes and Coach Brad [Bedell] (offensive technical intern) have really helped me out with that."

Miller came to CU with more hype than any recruit in recent years. He was ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's second best offensive tackle prospect from the Class of 2007.

Miller saw his first action at the college level in week four against Miami (Ohio) and in week seven against Kansas State he became the first true freshman to start at offensive tackle in CU history.

On the field for 514 snaps in the regular season, Miller recorded 54 knockdown blocks and graded out above 80 percent in four games.

Miller was named to the Freshman All-Big 12 team by both Rivals.com and the Sporting News.

"That is an honor and that is great, but I have three more years to play so hopefully I can make a couple more all-team lists," he remarked.

Additional Notes:

*** Miller has formed a friendship with Kai Maiava, who has also seen action in nine games as a true freshman. Maiava won the Lee Willard Award, which is given each year to the most outstanding freshman.

"Kai and I had a couple classes together this semester and we really bonded well," Miller said. "He is a great all-around guy. It is fun watching him see snow, and I'm sure it's fun for him to see me try to learn a Hawaiian language. It is a real good bond that we are building."

*** Miller and Maiava were just two of eight offensive linemen that the Buffaloes signed with the Class of 2007. The other six are currently redshirting.

"Those [other] guys are just working their butts off in scout team," Miller said. "Ethan Adkins and Matt Bahr, Shawn [Daniels] and Blake [Behrens] are mentally ready. And then you have Sione [Tau] and Mike [Iltis], who are as strong as an ox. As soon as they get technique down, they are going to maul people. We are going to be a force in the years to come because we have so many talented young offensive linemen and such great talent coming in [with the recruiting Class of 2008]."

*** Miller recorded a season-high eight and a half knockdown blocks in the Buffaloes' regular season finale against Nebraska. The Huskers were actually the first program to offer him a scholarship in December of his junior year in high school.

*** Coach Grimes has tried to instill a toughness and nasty streak within the offensive line since arriving on campus in late February. "There is a switch that Coach Grimes can switch on you and you know it is time to get nasty," said Miller. "For me, he just kind of glares at me and flails his arms and I know, 'Alright, it's time to get going'."

*** Staying in-state for college means that Miller can keep a closer eye on his former high school football team. He helped lead Columbine to a 5A state championship his senior season. Despite his busy schedule at CU, Miller was able to attend the Rebels' regular season games against Bear Creek and Arvada West this season. Columbine was ranked first in the state and undefeated until they lost to Bear Creek in the third round of the state playoffs. "That is still a big part of my heart and that program is going to be with me forever," Miller said when asked about the Rebels.

Miller's former Columbine teammate and friend Curtis Cunningham will be joining him at CU next season. Cunningham was recently named by the Rocky Mountain News as the state's top prep defensive player for the 2007 season.

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