Fans shouldn't be surprised that Darrian Miller is good.
A highly-publicized three-star prospect out of Blue Springs (MO) High School, Miller was the 2009 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year following a junior campaign in which he rushed for 2,797 yards and scored 37 touchdowns. As a senior in 2010, he topped the 2,000-yard mark again, this time rushing for 2,210 yards and 29 touchdowns despite his status as the sole focus of opposing defenses.
So yes, it should have been obvious from the start that Darrian Miller had a boatload of talent. But after making the decision to graduate from high school in December and enroll early at Kansas, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound talent has emerged as a serious contender for major playing time next season thanks to an impressive spring.
He's opened the eyes of everyone with his play - including those of Head Coach Turner Gill. The second-year head honcho of the Jayhawks said he was impressed with how quickly Miller has made the adjustment from high school to the speed of the college game, showing an advanced knowledge of the playbook and taking care of the football.
"That's the quickest way to not get as many reps, if you're not going to take care of the football," Gill said. "And he's done that. He's made more plays when maybe they don't look like there's something there. He's able to make something happen."
In freshman James Sims - one of the few true bright spots from a 2010 season that didn't feature many - the Jayhawks know what they have. As a result, Sims hasn't received as many reps this spring, with the coaching staff on the hunt for players to step forward from a talented group to play alongside him.
Miller threw his hat into the ring early, exploding for four touchdowns in the team's first scrimmage of the spring.
"Darrian definitely had some good runs today, and he showed that he has good vision and direction," Gill said, following the April 9 closed scrimmage. "And (he) showed a good burst of speed."
That strong play has continued, as the Jayhawks prepare to enter their final week of spring practice, leading up to the annual spring game Saturday, April 30.
On Wednesday, the offense enjoyed one of its most productive practices of the season, described as "offensive domination" by Gill and led by the running game - particularly Miller and Sims.
"We were very physical running the ball today," Gill said. "James Sims and Darrian Miller both did well. (Deshaun) Sands had a good run in there as well. We had two or three guys do some good things for us."
The Jayhawks have the rest of the week off before returning to the practice field Monday.