Miller Looking To Make An Impact At Tight End

Every once in a while, we come across a recruit that carries himself like a fifth-year senior. Today, we give you Andy Miller, an OSU commitment from Washington, Pa. Miller is a tight end and says there are no plans to move him to the offensive line. We caught up with him for more.

With just two offensive linemen in Ohio State's 2006 recruiting class, many are assuming that one of the tight ends in the class – Andy Miller, or Jake Ballard – will be moved to tackle.

But Miller, who hails from Washington, Pa., says he is definitely coming in as a tight end. He recognizes there is a possibility he could be moved to the O-line sometime down the road, but when he arrives at OSU, he's going to play the same position he played at Trinity High School.

"I don't think Ohio State has any interest in moving me to tackle," Miller said. "As far as when I've talked to my position coach (John Peterson), the recruiting coach (Joe Daniels), and even (head coach Jim) Tressel, they all seem to think that they want me to play tight end.

"And I think the thing about that that I've learned is Ohio State doesn't need to recruit tight ends to play tackle. They recruit tackles to play tackle; they recruit tight ends to play tight end. That really gives me a feeling that that's where I'm going to stay. If I can help the team out in another position, then obviously that's where the team needs me to be and where I need to be. So, I will start out at tight end and hopefully that's where I end up in four or five years."

Miller (6-6, 260, 4.9) made his decision on Jan. 13. He picked Ohio State over Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Indiana.

"I think number one is the people," Miller said of his choice to attend OSU. "And by that I mean as far as the coaches, the players, their academic support staff, everything added in. The people in the community are really excited about Ohio State football. Columbus is a great area. It was the place that felt most like home."

Miller tried to take his time and explore all options. But OSU continued to stand out in his mind.

"Really, it's just that I kept coming back and comparing things to Ohio State," he said. "I would say, ‘I really like this a lot, but it was better at Ohio State.' So, really everything just kept coming back, coming back, coming back, and I think that was a true sign of where I needed to be."

Miller flew somewhat under the recruiting radar largely because he played in a run-oriented offense in high school. He had seven receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns as a senior in 2005, and caught just 20 passes throughout his prep career. But he has soft hands and is also a very good blocker.

"I think what you see on film is that I became progressively better as the year went on," Miller said. "Really my role was we schemed to run to the strong side – the tight end side. We ran 88 percent of our plays to my side. We finished with the league's leading rusher and we had a great back in the backfield and obviously if you have that capability in high school, there's no purpose to putting the ball in the air. So, we were a very run-oriented team. We passed when it was open. The passes that were thrown to me, I pulled them down. I averaged 27 yards a catch or something like that. They were typically deeper passes. I had a couple touchdowns this year, couple last year. Really it was run-first, check to the pass, which was fine with me. I accepted my role, because I was surrounded by a lot of great players."

Miller offered his strengths as a tight end.

"I believe that my number one strength is that I'm very determined in each play to do my job," he said. "Very focused. Whether it's a block, or a route. I think that whether you're very strong, or tall, or big, or not, I think the drive is very is really what puts you over the edge with strong players and things like that.

"At the Nike camp at Penn State I had the most bench reps for a tight end (21 reps of 185 pounds) and strength is very important and all those types of things. But I think what really helps me is just my drive and just my push to beat the guy in front of me."

But Miller says he has a lot of hard work ahead of him to become the player he wants to be.

"Absolutely. I think I'll never be done working," he said. "As far as whether it ends at Ohio State, or what I'm hoping is that it ends after a career in the NFL. And obviously no player is perfect and you can continue to learn things. Obviously I'm very young and I need to learn a lot. I think the thing that helps me is that I have the determination and the drive to do it, and I'm a good listener and learner. So, if the coach is telling me that I need to do this – as far as technique and things like that – that won't be a problem because of the drive that I have, which will in turn make me a better football player."

The Buckeyes went beyond enemy lines to pull in this prospect. Miller's family has strong ties to Penn State, as well as Pittsburgh.

"It's funny you say that," Miller said. "I was actually born around the Philadelphia area, but I've always been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. My entire family is from Western Pennsylvania and I grew up here. My parents and their parents on both sides grew up here and they both have farms. My grandmother went to Penn State, my uncle went to Penn State, two of my aunts went to Penn State, and my grandfather went to Pitt. So, yeah, it's very Western Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania oriented. I was a Penn State fan growing up and things like that, but that's just where my environment was. I still think they're obviously a great football team, but I'm definitely glad I'm with the Scarlet and Gray."

So, are any of the PSU grads in Miller's family giving him a hard time about selecting Ohio State?

"No, absolutely not," he said. "A lot of my family is still real big Penn State fans. But, even though my grandmother is a big Penn State… she went to school with Joe Paterno. So, she's been a Penn State fan her whole life. But they're very excited about the opportunity for me to go play for Ohio State and stay in the Big Ten and give them a reason to go back to Beaver Stadium. I think it involves my family a lot being in the Big Ten and they are very excited about me playing for Ohio State."

Miller says playing for Tressel was a big part of his decision.

"I think that Coach Tressel, I think he's a person that will put you in awe," he said. "And what I mean by that is that he is a guy that really, really has his priorities straight. He will win as much, if not more, than any other coach, any other team, and he goes about it the right way. He doesn't have to go through loopholes or anything like that. He will do everything the correct way, and he will win. People will graduate, players will be in the NFL, Ohio State will be a successful football team. I think 56 kids in the last quarter had a 3.0 or better. He's very concerned about all of his players. He wants them to succeed in everything, life as a whole. I think that him being such a players' coach is what really draws people."

Miller watched OSU's 34-20 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and says he was rooting hard for the Buckeyes, even though he hadn't committed at that time.

"I think the best word to describe that game was explosive," Miller said. "I think Ohio State came out very explosive. They pounded and pounded and pounded them, and then they hit a couple deep balls and they really caught them off guard. They had excellent speed. It was a lot of fun to watch. I was sitting down in a room and half the people were rooting for Ohio State, and half the people were rooting for Notre Dame. And this was prior to my decision. That was very interesting. It was a lot of fun to watch Ohio State beat them, for sure."

The Buckeyes' recruiting class is ranked in the top 10 nationally and Miller has taken notice.

"That's awesome," he said. "That's the kind of competition you want to come in with. That's the kind of players you want to be around. And that's the kind of senior class you want to be with. I think that surrounding yourself with the best players is what's going to make you the best. I wouldn't want myself to come in as the best player in my class. And I'm not saying that I am, or I'm not. I just think it's great to come in with a lot of great players.

"I know there's another tight end that's coming in and he seems like a really great player. That's the kind of competition that I want. That's the kind of thing I'm drawn toward."

Miller has not had a chance to meet any of his fellow recruits personally.

"Not particularly," he said. "I know we have an excellent running back committed (Chris Wells). I'm not really familiar with all the commits, but I'm actually planning on going (to Ohio State) Saturday and there will be a couple guys there who haven't committed yet and hopefully I can work a little recruiting myself and get those guys to come out to Columbus because I think there's a really good core of guys and the more better players, the better it is. I don't know a whole lot of the recruits, but what I do know is I want the best of the best to be at Ohio State."

Miller carries a 3.99 GPA. He reflected on his rebellious youthful days when he slacked off and actually received an A-minus in a math class.

"I think it was freshman year I took an honors math course, and coming out of middle school I wasn't really ready for that," he said. "I think it was just very different. I got myself in a little bit of a hole and it was tough for me to work my way out. Obviously it would be nice to have the 4.0, but I look forward to keeping it at a 3.99 now."

Miller will not graduate high school early. He will move to Columbus sometime during the summer.

"I've talked to Coach Daniels about that and I'm not sure of my plans yet," he said. "I'll definitely be up sometime in the summer, whether it's for summer school, or just summer workouts. I'll be up there this summer, but I'm not sure when."

Junior Marcel Frost will likely be the starting tight end for OSU in 2006. Pennsylvania-native Rory Nicol, who sat out with a medical redshirt in 2005, will likely be the backup. Miller knows that he might redshirt, but is going in with an open mind and a good work ethic.

"As far as that goes, if I'm ready to play and I can contribute… if I can be a difference-maker on the team and really contribute and play at the level that the rest of the guys next to me are – because I have to be dependent on them and they have to be dependent on me – but if I can play at that level, then absolutely," Miller said. "But if I'm not and it's the best thing for the team for me to be redshirted – and I know that happens a lot, especially at a line position because physically you're body isn't prepared for that next level. It's just really going to be on me and how I progress. If I'm ready to play, then I'm going to play. If not, then I'll redshirt and obviously I will be a lot better as a fifth-year senior."

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