Miller Time Once Again at Tight End

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Just like last year, a tight end with the surname of Miller will be the leading player at his position. But this time it is Brent, not Zach that will have that honor. The senior told Devils Digest that sees this season as stepping out of the shadow of his younger brother and All-Pac 10 tight end who has left school to enter the NFL draft.

Brent Miller admitted that he does feel weird for the first time in three years, not seeing brother Zach Miller on the field during ASU practice." I found myself looking around trying to find where my H-Back is," he said. "Zach's gone, but it's also kinda of fun getting all the reps, all the balls…it's different but still fun…I guess I get kinda see it that I'm not playing in his shadow anymore."

When the tight end isn't at school or at the practice field, he intently follows his younger brother's quest to impress NFL teams and get a chance to be drafted as high as possible next month. "It's been a lot of fun," Miller described the experience. "All the pressure is on him and I get to live vicariously through him. I get to see all the stuff he does, listen to all the stories, and not worry about running a good 40-yard time (laughs). It has been a lot of fun watching him go through all that."

Back today at the first of 15 spring practices, Miller was eager to return to the practice field and feels that the transition to Coach Erickson and his staff should ultimately be a smooth one. "We're getting the kinks out, and because we have a new system, everyone is trying to learn where they're supposed to be right now," he explained. "It's a little different (under a new staff). Their philosophy is work as hard as you can on the field; never quit on a play…we have a lot more freedom in routes getting open, instead of having set routes. They're just telling us to get open."

Miller admitted that his transition to his position coach, Dan Cozzetto, will probably be smoother than his peers' will be. The Miller and Cozzetto families have known each other for over ten years and live less than a mile from each other. "I know what kind of a guy he is and what to expect from him," noted Miller. "A lot of tight ends are out here going ‘wow, this is a lot different than (former TE's) Coach Osborne was…' but I kinda got a head start because I knew what kind of coach he was. When he was coaching here before I would go with my dad and catch ASU practice, and I saw Coach Cozzetto yelling at everyone, so I know what to expect."

The senior noted that that while the two-tight end set from last year will once again be a prominent feature in the Arizona Stat defense, that team will "mix it up" in terms of formations, and not be in that scheme each and every down. For example, Tyrice Thompson was used as a hybrid tight end/wide receiver, which Miller said offers a lot of flexibility. "He can split out or be on the line…we're real interchangeable with our tight ends. Dane Guthrie and Jovon Williams should be good tight ends for us."

In today's practice it was hard not to notice that the tight ends and the offensive line working together in many of the drills. "That's kind of new compared to last year," said Miller. "Coach Cozzetto helps a lot with the tackles, and we do a lot with the O-Line and work on run-blocking and pass-blocking."

As a senior, the tight end is very aware of the leadership role he's expected to carry out. In fact, he already sees that role seeking him out, rater than the other way around. "Some of the time I don't really have a choice because I see everyone looking at me and asking me all the questions," he said. "It feels right to me. I remember when I was in that position asking Lee Burghgraef questions when he was a senior, and personally it feels good that now everyone is asking me questions."

Having the answers to those queries basically sums up his personal goals for spring practice. "We need get the offense down and make sure everything is running smoothly by spring ball," said Miller. "I'm gonna work on keeping everyone in the game, because spring practice can kinda drag along, so I want to keep the team's tempo up. By the time spring ball comes around we should be ready to go to Camp T."

And Miller is ready for that tight end spotlight to shine on him for a change…

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