He was the lesser-hyped of two tight end prospects who entered in the class of 2006 and ended up redshirting while Jake Ballard earned playing time that season. He moved to the offensive line and played against USC in 2008 but returned to the bench when Michael Brewster moved into the starting lineup. And after beginning last year as the starter at left tackle, Miller fought a nasty bout with the flu that robbed him of playing time.
Now, he'll enter fall in a battle with junior Mike Adams for the starting job on the left side, and Miller admitted it's tough to fight yet again for the position that was his at the start of the '09 campaign.
"Yeah, it is," he said. "But it's kind of out of my control, you know? I think there was a series of a lot of unfortunate things that happened last season. If I don't get sick, you wonder what happens, but I think the competition is good. Obviously, I want to be the guy."
As Miller alluded to, the left tackle spot was one that led to many trials and tribulations for line coach Jim Bollman a season ago. After Miller started the opening three games, Adams – who did not play in the first two – took over against Illinois in week four. Soon after, Miller went down with the flu, and Adams soon was hurt in the seventh game against Purdue and had knee surgery.
"I think last year was kind of a scramble," Miller said. "The whole offensive line was dealing with injuries, I got real sick, Mike was hurt for a little while and we asked Jimmy to go from the right to the left. Things are pretty much back where they were."
That means Miller – who is up to 6-6, 288 pounds since arriving as a tight end from Washington, Pa. – and Adams have been competing almost exclusively for the spot that protects the blindside of franchise quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Adams, a five-star prospect coming out Dublin (Ohio) Coffman who noticeably slimmed down during the offseason, started the jersey scrimmage as the No. 1 player at the position. The two rotated throughout that scrimmage and have done so during the entirety of spring.
Though Adams looks much improved and appeared to be the better of the two tackles during the spring, head coach Jim Tressel said the battle can expect to move on into the fall.
"As we always say, this is a 15-practice cycle and then there are 29 practices at the other end and the preconference games as well," he said. "I think we have good competition there, at not just tackle but a lot of positions. I think it's going to be fun to watch it evolve."
Partly because of his athleticism, Miller also boasts the added ability to play spots other than tackle on the line. He has stepped onto the field at left guard when necessary in the past, and he played that spot when starter Justin Boren went down at the jersey scrimmage with a minor injury.
"He's very versatile," Boren said after the scrimmage. "He and Mike are battling, and I think it's a battle that's not going to be decided in spring ball. They're both very good, they're both very capable and they both started games for us last year so we're comfortable with either of them in the lineup."
At that left tackle spot, Miller said he's aware of the No. 1 area in which he needs to improve if he wants to become the starter.
"I think the guy who is going to step out there, it's really important in pass protection," he said. "If I pass protect very, very well … I think I'm doing well, but I think that's going to be the guy who has the spot."
And though he's locked in a battle, Miller expects nothing but the best going into his senior season.
"I have all the intentions of being the guy," Miller said. "The coaches will leave it at a competition until the first game, until the first play. I think it's going to be fun to watch it evolve."