Inside the Class of '05: Roy Miller

The 11th in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '05: Signee Roy Miller.

Roy Miller
Defensive Tackle
Killeen Shoemaker HS
NR: 8 SR: 6 Star Rating: *****

An Inside Texas conversation with Shoemaker head coach Ken Gray on Roy Miller:

IT: What are Roy's strengths as a football player?

Gray: His speed and quickness. He's probably one of the strongest kids we've ever had come through here, if not the strongest, but what separates him from other people is his speed and quickness and ability to change directions. He has real good what I would call closure to the football on defense. A lot of times you have kids that run 4.5 or 4.6 but then if they have a goal to focus on they get faster. That's how Roy is. When he's chasing down somebody on defense, boy he really steps up another level.

IT: In San Antonio at the U.S. Army Game, he chased a few guys down and he showed some sideline to sideline ability, but what really amazed me was on the punts, how quickly he got back to the punter...

Gray: That first punt, he got through and he knocked that other kid into the punter because he got through so fast and I think that was on his mind because the third punt he breaks free. If he keeps going, he blocks that one but I think in his mind, 'I've already roughed him once, so I better not', so he stops, but like I said, his quickness, his first step off the ball is just phenomenal. You know, some people say he's a little bit undersized but he plays a lot bigger than he is in stature as far as height. He went through 10 games this year and I don't think he ever had a bad game. He blocked punts, he brought the kitchen sink every play. He did everything and if you watch film of the Belton game, he was pretty much wearing the quarterback's jersey that game.

IT: From watching him in San Antonio, he seems like a player that gives it his all every play...

Gray: He made us better offensively and defensively because starting last spring when he felt like he had an opportunity to play at (the next) level, he just stepped it up. We had a little visit and talked about taking plays off, just going 100 percent every play and he did that in the spring. Our offense knew that Roy was coming 100 percent so they had to step it up, so he made us better on both sides of the ball just by going 110 percent every play and I think every coach that came in here said, 'Boy, his motor really runs full speed' and it wasn't a show because it was every play, every practice, in off season. He just got in a mental frame that 'I'm going to go 100 percent every play'. Matter of fact, when he was down at that All-Star game in San Antonio, he'd call me and say, 'Coach, I'm blowin' 'em up,' and I'd say, 'You'd better save some for Saturday' and he'd say, 'Coach, with these guys you've got to bring it every play' and that's what he did all week long.

IT: What did the Texas tell you that they liked about Roy?

Gray: One of Roy's concerns was, could he play right away, and talking to coach Robinson, he said, 'Coach, he can go play anywhere right now. USC. OU. Texas. Anywhere. Right now.' He fits in to so many schemes of defense these days that there's not much not to like about him. He's got the first quick step, he's strong and gonna get stronger, he's got a tremendous upside. I don't see a downside other than he's 6-3. He's not 6-4 or 6-5 that people are looking for in that prototype defensive tackle.

IT: Talk about Roy's low center of gravity and his leverage.

Gray: He can get into you right now and I think that's what a lot of offensive linemen don't expect from him. The guard who is going to Iowa (in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl), Roy was on that kid and into that kid so fast that he was able to do the things that he did. For an interior linemen, a lot of things go unnoticed except to his line coach, but there were situations in the All-Star game, where you're going against the best, that somebody else made a play but Roy helped set up the situation by what he was doing inside, and for us as a team last year, whoever we would play, they had to have two and sometimes three people account for Roy in order to make their offense go which freed up several of our other kids and at times freed up Roy, because he gets into you so fast that he was able to defeat, not necessarily with strength but with his quickness, defeat the block.

IT: I've seen him compared to a guy like Casey Hampton, who plays nose tackle in the NFL. How do you think Roy fits in terms of UT's scheme?

Gray: I think he fits that mold perfectly. He's a unique type of kid because we do some slide protection where he does slide up over into a nose, so that's no problem. He's strong enough to take on a guy head-up in a two technique or he can play a three or even go out and play a four (technique) because he's quick enough to get outside, so where he plays I don't think that'll be an issue in the interior line.

IT: Has coach Chizik been up yet?

Gray: Yes sir, I met him and coach Giles and they are both excellent men and I think like everyone else they both fell in love with Roy right away. Meeting him, you see he's such a great kid and such a nice kid, but if you want to make Roy happy, just give him the key to the weight room. I think the guy that's going to be most excited about him will be Maddog because he goes in that weight room and he wants to work out. He doesn't want to pit-a-patter, he wants to work out. And he'll make the other guys around him better. If they don't have very good weight room work ethic, he'll make 'em because he'll embarrass 'em, so the coaching staff is going to get a real good surprise because he definitely comes to practice and play and he has a definite passion for the game.

IT: What are the things that Roy needs to work on not only this off-season but going forward as a player?

Gray: Everybody needs to get stronger. You're going to a different level. You've got to get stronger and work on your speed and agility and I think he'll do those things. Granted, (the Texas coaches) know a lot more about what he needs to do than I do, but those would be the things I see. Bigger, faster, stronger. He's got upside in that because he will. He's worked to get where he is and he'll do whatever coach asks him to do and I think that was another thing that drew him to Texas, in talking to coach Madden about what they do to improve quickness and improve their strength and I think he fell in love with coach Tolly too.

U.S. Army West squad and future Longhorn teammates Aaron Lewis and Roy Miller.

IT: Roy's such a soft-spoken guy, at least when I've talked to him, is he a leader and if so, how does he lead since he's not real boisterous?

Gray: You've seen the public side of Roy. He'll stand up, he'll speak. He'll lead by example but also he'll get up if he sees something wrong. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy. When he gets into practice, when he gets into a game situation, it is total focus. If someone is knocking off in the huddle or not giving it all during practice, he'll confront 'em and you'll hear him talk. When you talk to him off the field he's got a slow, deep voice, but there's some fire in that voice when he's on the field. That voice speeds up and you get the point that you're not getting after it and he'll get you going. He'll fire the coaches up. [Laughs]

IT: What did he mean to your football program over the last four years?

Gray: He's been one of the few kids because of our military situation that have started here as a freshman and gone all the way through Shoemaker High School, so I guess he's kind of a flagship type player for us. He's our first D-I signee, which speaks a lot about our athletic program and our school itself. He's not just a product of our football program, he's a product of Shoemaker High School and we're all proud of that.

IT: Can you see his family background in the way he acts as a person and as a football player?

Gray: Yes, sir. He's got a good solid family. Mom and dad, younger brother and older sister. His younger brother doesn't play football, though. He's in the band. But Roy has a good strong background. We're pretty fortunate that he's staying in the area because his parents after graduation are moving back to Washington state so we get to keep Roy around for a while, so we're excited about that.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Roy's ability as a football player?

Gray: Overall, there are so many plays, but I still say last spring when he just decided -- we brought him up as a sophomore, he started to play for us as a sophomore, so you could tell then that he was special, then early in his junior year he would show spots of brilliance where he could make plays like the ones you saw at the All-Star game, then there would be plays he'd take off. Like I told you, we had a visit before spring training last year, him and I, and I told him, 'This is what these guys want to see from you when they come around because you're going to get a lot of people come seeing you because you do have a talent but you can't take plays off.' And I said, 'Even if you don't make the play, even if you don't make the tackle, they want to see when that camera goes off, either Roy in the picture of trying to get to the play.' And I said, 'You've got to run. It doesn't matter if you lift this fieldhouse, and you're strong enough probably to, but if you can't move, that's what they're going to look at.' From that point forward, he stepped it up. I've never seen a kid with that passion in him and you could see it in him. He ran, he worked, he made us better on offense, he made us better on defense and special teams, just because every play he was going to bring it. He was going to go full speed. And I think he got a lot better between his junior and senior year and I think that was part of it, that he just wanted it so bad. And I think that's what's going to make him even better as a college player because he's going to step up to the challenges of other teams, playing OU and things like that, and he's such a team player. It's not about Roy Miller. Again, spring to me defined him. He stood up in spring training and told our senior class, 'A lot of people are going to come look at me, but it's about us. You show out and these people coming in are going to look at you guys too so let's all step up.' And they did. It was one of those leadership things on his part. And it's not about Roy Miller. Every time he's had an opportunity to get exposure, he's brought other kids along with him. When Coach Brown came, he took him around to his teachers, our principal, our counseling office, to show him Shoemaker High School.

Note from Clendon: Those of you that followed our coverage from the U.S. Army game last month know how highly I think of Miller both as a person and as a football player, but I'll say it again: he will make Orangebloods proud both on and off the field. A certain U.S. Army QB (who shall remain nameless, other than this hint: he's the antithesis of Miller as a person) told me in San Antonio, "Roy Miller is real big and physical, he's quick, he pretty much knows the snap count, he reads it real good... he's awesome. He's just a perfect athlete. He's big, physical, fast, that's all you want at D-tackle right there." Future Longhorn teammate RB Jamaal Charles said, "He's tough. He goes hard every play."

UT's Signing Day bio: Two-time All-State and three-time All-District performer at defensive tackle … also played some offensive tackle … named a captain in the 2005 U.S. Army All-America Bowl and recorded two sacks and three tackles … tabbed MVP of practice and finished second in MVP voting of that game … totaled 264 tackles and 24 sacks for his career … earned first-team All-State honors as a senior … named All-District and All-Area Defensive MVP … recorded 111 tackles, 25 solo tackles, 10 sacks, 19 hurries, 17 TFLs, six PBDs and two fumble recoveries, including a 43-yard TD return that season … recorded 17 tackles versus Temple as a senior … unanimous first-team All-District and All-Area that year as well … earned honorable mention All-State honors as a junior … unanimous first-team All-District choice as a sophomore … four-year letterman in powerlifting and a two-year letterman in track and field … earned eighth place in state powerlifting championships as a junior … competed in the shot put and discus in track and field … a prep honor roll student who was a three-time Academic All-District selection … named to the National Honor Roll as a junior … participates in reading and mentoring at local elementary and middle schools … volunteered at a local youth center … enjoys watching movies and playing video games … his cousin, Bryce Scanlon, is a defensive lineman at Utah … born July 7, 1987, in Fort Lewis, Washington … lived in Fort Eustis, Virginia from 1989-98 before moving to Fort Hood.

"I chose Texas because of its great tradition, coaches and players. It's a great school and they have the best family atmosphere. The family atmosphere really made the difference and you can tell how big of a family they are."

*Photos by Will Gallagher/Inside Texas and (with helmet on) Glenn Nelson/*


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