Miller Time Moves Now to Sundays

One of the main goals of college is to prepare yourself for a professional career. After three stellar seasons for the Sun Devils, Zach Miller felt he was ready to take that next step sooner rather than later. The tight end announced on Tuesday morning that he will forgo his senior year to enter the NFL draft in April.

"I thought about my decision a lot," said Zach Miller. "I talked to a lot of different people, a lot of former players, all my coaches, and I've decided to leave school early and pursue my dream of playing in the NFL. It's a great opportunity for me; it's something that I just can't pass up. Ever since I was a little kid I always wanted to play in the NFL, it's always been my dream. I always watched it and I thought about it; it was my top goal. To finally realize that, and make it, is something that I wanted."

Miller leaves ASU as one of the best ever in his position. He holds the school record for tight ends in touchdown receptions (14) and receptions (144). He's also second in receiving yards (1,512). The consensus All-American led the maroon and gold in 2006 with 50 receptions, 484 yards and four touchdowns.

"When I first came here, I didn't know if I would play or redshirt," he recalled, "and when I did so well as a freshman people said `Oh, he did so well as a freshman he's going to be three-and-gone.' So I started thinking about it a little bit, but as a freshman I didn't really expect to end up with 56 catches, so it was kind of a surprise to me."

While his ASU tenure was full of achievements, he does feel that there's one feat he's disappointed that he couldn't accomplish in his three years in Tempe. "I only wish I could have played in a BCS game," he admitted. "Watching the (national championship) game the other night was a lot of fun. Getting a chance to play in one of those games where it's so important and there's so much focus on it would have been a lot of fun."

Mother Jaki, father Tom and sister Kara were present during his press conference, but brother and senior-to be ASU tight end was absent due to a previous snowboarding commitment. Nonetheless, he certainly was on his little brother's mind on this important day. "I think my biggest memory is going to be my first game ever here and it's actually Brent scoring the first touchdown between the two of us," he remarked. "It was kind of a little competition and I was just expected to get it and then he ended up getting the first touchdown. I think he talked about it for the next two or three years."

Miller spoke fondly of the great times he had with his older brother both at local Desert Vista High School and Arizona State. If he were to stay, both of them would exhaust their eligibility in 2007 (Brent redshirted his freshman year due to injury). Ironically, his decision to leave school creates a bigger stage for Brent Miller to showcase his skills. "I think obviously that he'll be the number one tight end so he should be catching a lot of balls," Zach Miller noted. "When we're both here it does hurt the other person a little bit depending on what you're running. I am not worried about the tight end position at ASU next year because they have Brent and he's a great player and he'll get his due next year."

Aside from his family, when Miller contemplated entering the NFL draft, he also consulted the previous and current ASU coaching staff, as well as Sun Devils in the NFL like Andrew Walter and fellow tight end Todd Heap. He said that by talking to all the aforementioned parties he got a pretty good idea if he was ready or not for the NFL. The league's advisory committee advised him where he was likely to be drafted. He was mum on the exact projection and just commented by saying with a big smile that "it's good enough." He added that "The advisor thing helped some and talking to different people that are already in the NFL helped a lot too. I feel like I've accomplished a lot here as an individual and those are some big parts of it the decision)."

Not only was the tight end a vital part of the passing game in 2006, but he also was a significant contributor to a stellar Sun Devil running game. Undoubtedly, his wide array of skills has helped to create what is believed to be a very favorable impression among NFL teams' front offices. "I'm sure they always want to look for someone who's versatile and can move around and play a lot of positions," said Miller, "especially with the way that H-Backs have evolved in the NFL similar to the way we run it here. I'm sure that's helped a lot, getting a chance to do it here so that they can have a chance to see me do it before I get there."

Miller plans to work out here in the valley for next month's NFL combine, and the likely private workouts that will follow in the weeks leading up to the April 28-29 draft. ""I don't have any specific goals yet (for the combine)," he remarked. "I want to run well and do all the statistical stuff well. I want to improve all of that stuff as much as I can leading up to the combine and make sure that I do well at it."

The Pac-10 All-Academic first team member plans to return to school and get his degree, which he said is just three semesters away from completing. "I've always planned to get my college degree and ASU has given me a great opportunity to do that," he explained. "I definitely plan to come back and get it, it's definitely something that I want to do and something that I think is important." He added that he will start working towards that goal in the spring of 2008.

Miller is uncertain what his professional plans will be after his NFL career comes to an end. He is however crystal clear on whom his allegiances lie with. "Even though I'm moving on to the NFL I'll always support ASU. They're my team and I'll always root for them, not just because Brent's playing here, but because I'm a Sun Devil and I'll be a Sun Devil for life," he said. "I loved the Sun Devils growing up, and I'll be rooting for them every time they play next year. I'll be on the sidelines anytime I can get a break to sit and watch the games and get a chance to enjoy that college football game. Just watching Brent is going to be fun next year and I know that I'll make it to as many games as I can."

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