Decatur native and Illinois graduate Brit Miller was always a popular figure when he was on campus. His return to Champaign-Urbana for the Jock Jams event brought him back to his alma mater and some old memories.
"It doesn't change much. There's always energy, there's always a ton of people around, and that's one of the things you have to get used to as you move on into your adult life."
Miller was at last year's event too, but he was impressed with how the event had grown in just a year's time."It's actually a lot more packed this year than it was last year. I'm glad to see this event is growing."
Miller is usually the one making jokes and getting people to laugh, but he also enjoyed watching the various teams show different sides of themselves for a good cause.
"I laughed so hard last year. I couldn't keep my head off of Ella Masar's shoulder. I was almost crying. Just to see these guys come out and do what they do on a goofy level, it's pretty fun."
Miller has taken his bumps in the NFL so far but has seemed to find his niche with the St. Louis Rams.
"Stability is 'never' in the NFL, but it's good to have some coaches that like you and are going to be there for awhile."
Miller suffered an unfortunate knee injury near the end of the season. Due to the lockout, he's doing his rehab work on campus instead.
"Injury-wise, I'll be up here rehabbing my knee with the lockout and all. But I trust the U of I. They did me right while I was here. Now I get to come back and do it all over."
Before the injury, Miller was really seeing some great progress on the field. He was gaining momentum and even cracked the starting lineup as the lead blocker for former pro-bowler Steven Jackson.
"My playing time increased, and I took the starting job at fullback. It was all right on track until I got hurt."
The impending lockout has Miller a bit concerned due to the uncertainty. His injury adds to his worries, but he's optimistic and knows what he needs to do in the mean time.
"I think it's a little more on my mind now that I'm injured, and it takes away from my ability to get better since we can't use the facilities due to the lockout. But when you're in the pros, it is that you are a pro and that it's on you to get better and stay in shape."
After stops in Carolina and San Francisco, Miller landed back in the Midwest with the St. Louis Rams. Along with the new home came a lot of the old comforts of home, including former close teammate of his Michael Hoomanawanui.
"It's great. First day I came in it was great to see him and one of my former trainers from the U of I. It makes the transition a lot easier coming in midseason. I went from the Panthers to the 49ers. I was pretty much starting over not knowing anybody. I'm just glad I'm through that, and now I feel like I can go anywhere."
Being close to home also helped Miller adjust to his new team and new city. His family was very supportive of him throughout college and is keeping up with that trend in his pro career too.
"There's nothing better. Just to have family coming to games it kind of gives it that college feel. You look in the stands, and you know where your family and friends are. That was few and far between in San Francisco. Plus I get to be a part of a turnaround, and hopefully we get that accomplished."
So what does Miller expect to see from his Rams next year?
"We have a tough schedule. I just hope we're getting better, and I think that's where we're headed. The coaching staff is great. Sam Bradford is really coming on. Uh-Oh (Hoomanawanui) is getting better even though I can still tear him up probably (said with a laugh), but I think we're on our way."
We wish Miller the best as he recovers from his injury and hope to see him representing the Orange and Blue with the Rams in the fall.