The Maurice Miller story has been told before, but is worth repeating.
The sophomore right tackle for the Ole Miss Rebel football team didn't know what to expect from his new offensive line coach, Art Kehoe, last January when Kehoe came to Ole Miss from Miami.
He found out quickly what Kehoe was all about.
"We had a heart-to-heart conversation and he basically put it all on the table," Miller said. "He told me I was the biggest, strongest player on the team and I wasn't getting it done. He told me I wasn't a reliable person and that I had to change.
"Once we had that heart-to-heart, I saw where he was coming from and I knew, from how I was raised, that he was right. I knew I was a way better person than what he was seeing. I knew I had to take the initiative and show him I was a different person. From then on, my mentality has been to show all the coaches I am dependable and reliable and can be trusted."
Miller appreciates Kehoe's input, from a football standpoint and a personal standpoint.
"Coach Kehoe has not only been my coach, but he's been a father away from home to me. He doesn't limit his interaction with me to football. We talk about things in my regular life too. We talk about being responsible in everything we do, not just in football," said Mo.
Miller's weight - which was around 370 pounds when he came to Ole Miss his freshman year - has also been an issue and remains so.
"I have had to learn how to manage my weight, and I continue to battle it daily. It's all about discipline," Mo noted. "My biggest weakness has been late-night snacks. Since I have been able to control those urges, my weight has stayed close to where I want it, but I still need to lose more weight. I'm at 330 now and would like to get in the 315-pound range.
"My eating habits were all wrong. I've never been a breakfast person, but it's been drilled in my head a million times that breakfast is the most improtant meal of the day. I had to start eating breakfast and cut out the late-night snacks and the weight started coming off."
The "330-range" has been pretty good to Maurice, as he attests.
"At 350 and up, there's no way you can move with that much weight. I was getting by, but wasn't playing anywhere near the level I needed to be at," he explained. "The extra weight has also helped me manage an acute case of asthma I have. I'm in better shape, I'm more disciplined in taking my medication and I'm not on the inhaler near as much as I used to be. I use my inhaler right before practice and that keeps it suppressed real well.
"When I was 370 pounds, I could go through one drill and I'd be done for the day. Now, I feel pretty good throughout practices. Getting the asthma under control has helped me as much as losing the weight, but I think they go hand-in-hand."
Once Maurice made up his mind to be a dedicated player, and person, things began to click for him, but not immediately.
"I was not catching on to what I was supposed to do very quickly so I lost my starting job from spring. I was the number one RG coming out of spring, but I got beat out by John Jerry when August rolled around," he said. "The old Maurice would have given in or complained or slacked off. That just made me more determined.
"I started catching on to my assignments and kept working hard. I kept my head down and plowed ahead. When the coaches came to me about moving to right tackle when Darryl Harris and David Traxler got hurt, I knew I was ready to do the job."
Maurice stepped into the starting spot at right tackle three games ago and has not relinquished the post since.
"It's a hard transition because the guys outside, the defensive ends in this league, are the playmakers. They are big, fast and strong and you are blocking them in space. They are usually great technicians as well," he stated. "You have to be a perfect technicians yourself, and you have to be mobile.
"A lot of people believe it's just another OL position, but it's totally different."
Mo last played tackle in high school, but he said there's no comparison.
"I just overpowered people in high school, but you can't do that here. These DEs will make you look silly if you try that high school stuff on them," he smiled. "They will blow by you so fast it will make your head spin and your QB will get nailed.
"You better know your technique and assignments, and know all your opponent's moves, or your QB will get hurt."
Mo now feels good about where he is in his life and in his football career.
"I am more responsible and accountable now in everything I do. On the field, I now am able to call out blitzes and make adjustments and do my job," he said. "When Coach Kehoe tells me something, I've got it. He doesn't have to tell me twice. That comes from being more accountable and from knowing the basics.
"I've got work to do, we all do, but I'm getting there."
Harris and Traxler are making comebacks from their knee injuries, but Mo is still the number one RT. He said he will not take that for granted.
"I'm proud I've been able to hold on to the starting job at RT, but I can't let it go to my head. If I make simple or stupid mistakes, our coaches will put me back on the bench," Maurice ended. "I will be humble to the game and keep working hard and being accountable. That's what got me where I am now and that's what will keep me as a starter."
Maurice Miller -
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