Truth of the Matter: Miller is Undecided

‘The Truth.' That is the nickname Zach Miller received after his first few practices as a freshman. Teammates immediately realized back then that the heralded tight end lived up to all the expectations. Yet his humble persona leaves no doubt in one's mind, that he truly hasn't reached a decision on whether to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Naturally, Zach Miller is asked about this topic everyday. However, he takes pride in not having the NFL issue distract him, as he wants no one to blame a rare sub-par performance by him on his mind being occupied by thoughts regarding his playing future.

"I'm trying to put it off, but people are obviously asking about it," he said. "I'm just waiting until after the season and waiting for those talks to come after. I'm gonna put it off as long as I can. December will definitely be the time where I'll have some time to think about it and talk to my family. I want to decide after the bowl game and not be a distraction…I definitely haven't decided anything yet. I do think about it, but I'm not leaning one way or another."

The junior stated in the past that going to a Rose Bowl prior to his senior season, would make him more likely not to stay at ASU for the four years. Since that game is out of reach, how does that impact his ultimate decision? "Hard to say," he admitted. "After the season, they're definitely some things I got to think about, with (brother) Brent here and do I wanna play with him again…it has been a lot of fun to play with him and be close to my family. They're a lot of issues."

When older brother Brent was recruited and signed by Arizona State, cynics that this move was more about securing the services of Zach the next year, rather that truly being interested in Brent. Whether that was the plan or not - it worked. Miller commented that Brent coming to ASU carried more than a 50% weight when he decided whether to sign with ASU or not. Consequently, staying on the team for his senior year (which would also be Brent's last season since he redshirted as a freshman), will once again factor his older sibling in the decision.

The tight end was pleased that he and Brent combined for 10 catches and 156 yards against Washington State. "I look forward to more games like that," he said. "I'm so happy for him, because I know what kind of player he is and I know he can do that every week. It's just a matter of him getting a chance."

Miller did already talk to a former Sun Devil and current Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap who did leave his ASU his junior year. It appears that many more forces aside from an NFL advisory committee will determine Zach's collegiate football fate. "That (NFL advisory committee) can help, but you can't trust it all the way. There are a lot of other factors. I won't have a cut off (in terms of what round he's projected to be drafted in), I'm gonna leave it to what I feel in my heart…it would make it easy if I just woke up one day and decided this is what I'm gonna do."

While his decision could be more than a month away, this coming Saturday could eventually prove to be his last home game at Sun Devil Stadium. "It would be a weird feeling," Miler commented. "If it were my last home game it would be pretty sad. That's just gonna come with life. I try to be ready for everything. The NFL is a totally different thing; guys are a lot bigger and hit a lot harder. I don't know if you're really ever ready for it, you kind of just get thrown to it."

His humility also shows in the fact that he's not content with his already lofty achievements with the Sun Devils. Already the school's all-time leader in receptions and yards for a tight end, he said that "There's always that next record (to achieve), but I have accomplished a lot here. It's gonna be hard thing." Another thing that will be hard for him to do is play fullback at the next level because of his 6-5 frame. Miller certainly sounds like a player who will miss those down and dirty duties on Sundays.

"I like being back there. You're pretty much block the same way a tight end would," he explained. "It's always fun, like I did against Washington State, to hit that linebacker and cutting off defensive ends. I like getting dirty and pancaking the guy." He added that he has picked up tips watching others play the position, but he says with a smile that his assignments in this role are limited to blocking and do not include carrying the ball.

Not that he needed any more reason to showcase his outstanding receiving abilities, but in a game like the convincing win against Washington State, Miller was a direct beneficiary of the improved play of the wide receivers group. "It was definitely nice (to win in a big margin), I like that. A lot of receivers catching balls and touchdown passes…it looked a lot like last year. Definitely when those guys are scoring touchdowns, it does open the middle of the field where I can work in."

And his work area can be a dangerous one. Against Washington State he was consistently met by an oncoming linebacker of a safety each time he hauled in the pigskin in the middle of the field. "I was trying to find the soft spots in the zone and Rudy was hitting me and they're were coming downfield and hitting me, but a catch is a catch," he noted. "You have to be able to take those hits as a tight end, and I'm the first one to say ‘throw it in there – I'll catch it every time."

In a season where the Sun Devil wideouts have greatly struggled, it would be an understatement to declare that Miler has been the safety valve of the receiving game. Yet, it seems that despite that fact many of Carpenter's passes still find him uncovered? "They do pay a lot of attention to me," he replied, "but they can't do it all the time especially with how they want to blitz and covering other receivers. When they leave me open, Rudy makes sure that he finds me."

If this Saturday is indeed his last ever game in Tempe, he does expect his squad to have quite a battle on their hands. "UCLA will come out hungry and ready to play because they want to qualify for a bowl game and we'll have to be ready for that," said Miller. "They'll have better athletes than we have been playing recently, so we have to be ready for that. But it's about us. We have to be ready to continue what we did against Washington State, continue to throw the ball well, and stay on a roll."

It would be hard to imagine a Sun Devil win without a solid, if not spectacular contribution from Zach Miller. On the same note, the Sun Devil nation will probably have to accept the fact that this Saturday will be the last time they get to witness one of the best offensive players in the school's history strut his All-American skills at Sun Devil Stadium.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories