Column - Former Mountaineer Miller will bring perseverence, passion to NFL
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 02:04
Tonight, to the pleasure of football fans everywhere, the National Football League will hold its annual player draft. Since 1936, teams in the NFL have bolstered their respective rosters by selecting amateur athletes from the nation’s finest colleges and universities.
At one point, the NFL draft was nothing more than a bonafide crapshoot; teams would select players on nothing more than a good word and perhaps an intriguing rumor. Today, fans have the ability to log on to the Internet and see in-depth breakdowns of every single player who is eligible for selection – even the guys who will barely make a practice squad.
For some, the hype surrounding the draft is the best part. On every last Thursday in April, my friends and I will gather around the television to see how our favorite teams will draft, as well as criticize every big decision made.
As I’ve grown older, and perhaps wiser in some aspects, I’ve stopped loving that part so much.
Sure, the first round is full of excitement and hype, but for me personally, the later rounds are where the real work gets done.
In 2007, for instance, my favorite team used a fifth-round pick on a tight end from Cincinnati. After watching a lot of Big East football, I knew my team had gotten a solid player and taken on very little risk to do so.
Two seasons later, that player would set a franchise record for most receptions by a tight end.
Granted, not every player drafted after the third round turns out to be as good of an investment.
For every late-round steal like Tom Brady (sixth-round, 2000) there are dozens of players who never even play a full season in the NFL.
I’m not telling you all of this for nothing.
Tonight, Mountaineer fans everywhere will wait for former West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin to become the latest alumnus to play in the NFL.
However, long after the lights are dimmed and the big-name television analysts leave, the real fun will begin.
I can’t wait to see what team takes a chance on Julian Miller.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive lineman from Sherrodsville, Ohio, isn’t the first player who comes to many people’s minds when they think of this draft class.
Heck, he might not come to anybody’s mind outside of West Virginia.
I am excited to see where Irvin goes, and I know he will do well in the NFL. However, I’m really looking forward to hearing Miller’s name called.
After getting to know Miller a little bit last season, I feel certain that in the right situation, he will have no problem finding success in the NFL.
He may not have the physical attributes that scouts drool over, but he has something more important.
The right attitude.
Whether it was after a big win, a disappointing loss or simply a spring practice, Miller was always honest, polite and open with whomever he interacted.
Miller was a media darling; virtually anyone who crossed paths with him will tell you about his respectful and mature attitude and how he never took anything for granted.
His mentality rubbed off on others, and the senior leader’s mind-set was contagious in the locker room.
I can’t imagine how hard it is for a Division I athlete with pro-potential to keep a level head. Miller, however, seemed to do it with ease. His perspective and overall outlook will take him a long way.
Oh, and not to mention, he did have 29.5 sacks during his four-year career in Morgantown.
While Miller’s name may not come off the board until the fifth, sixth, or possibly even seventh round, I have no doubt he will make an impact for whatever team he ends up playing for.
Having freakish athleticism and elite football skills may be a prerequisite to put on an NFL uniform, but to find staying power in one of the toughest, most unforgiving professions in America requires mental savvy and strong perseverance.
Or, in other words, all the things that I would say to describe Julian Miller.