After offensive lineman Isaac Miller was sidelined during last year's spring game with an injury, it was diagnosed as an MCL sprain, which typically requires a short recovery time. But his knee injury lingered.
“The MCL injury was part of it but that hasn't given me any problems. It turned out my patella dislocated and pretty much broke. A piece of it came off the bottom so it has been a tracking issue ever since,” said Miller, who remained sidelined for the entire 2016 season.
“It has been a tough injury and not something you hear about all the time,” he added. “So it is not like an ACL where you go in and they fix it and they have this protocol and rehab that is going to work. With this, they go in and try this, try that, and see what happens. It has been trail and error with it.”
Miller continues to log long hours in the training room. He has seen progress, though, which gives him hope for the future. Head coach Mike MacIntyre said on Monday that Miller has been working his way into individual drills.
“It has definitely been a long process, longer than it was supposed to be, longer than anybody expected but it is part of football,” Miller said. “It is a little adversity that has been a bump in the road but I am doing everything I can to get back out there."
What made the injury even more frustrating was the fact Miller was making great strides at left tackle last spring. In fact, he was the recipient of the Dean Jacob Van Ek Award for “excellence” as well as the Joe Romig Award, as selected by the coaches for being the most improved offensive lineman during spring practices.
“I started to learn the playbook a little better than I had before and my body started developing a little bit better,” he said. “College football is a lot different than high school so it took a little while for me to get the hang of things and last spring it kind of clicked. Unfortunately I was faced with this setback but I am going to get through it.”
Miller could battle for a starting gig, or at the very least, he should be in line for a back-up role as a sophomore as long as he is healthy.
“Hopefully he'll be back full speed soon. We need him,” MacIntyre said of Miller. “He will be [in the mix] when he gets back out there full speed, for sure.”
A standout at Sand Creek High School in Longmont before joining the Buffaloes, Miller was a lean 6-foot-7, 245-pounds when he received a scholarship offer from Colorado. And due in part to a bout with mononucleosis, he weighed just 220-pounds when he signed with the Buffs.
Miller did get up to 285-pounds before suffering the injury last spring, and he is now 275. His ultimate goal is to get up over 290 and close to 300-pounds.
“I have been working hard with the strength coaches and nutritionist to do everything I can to gain weight and it has been tough for me, no doubt, I'll admit that,” he said. “I am not even close to where I need to be but I am trying to trust to the process as much as possible and hopefully as I mature a little more, I'll start to gain more mass where I need to.”
Miller is studying Integrative Physiology as well as Psychology, the pre-med route, with hopes of gaining admittance into medical school and becoming a doctor in the future.
“It has definitely been a tough road with football so far but I think I am handling things pretty well and now we're getting down to the time where I'll have to start looking at taking the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) so it is getting real academically,” Miller said. “And with football, I just have to stay patient and positive... you have to.
“Obviously there have been times where you wonder about things and it gets tough, but everyone goes through that when they get injured. I just have to trust the process. That is all I can do. There are days I feel really good, and in the weight room I am definitely making strides, so we'll see what happens. I am doing everything they are telling me to do, so hopefully I'll be back out there by the end of spring ball.”