Summertime is Miller's Time

While the average college student may currently be fighting a personal Battle of the Bulge to get in shape for summer trips to the beach, at least one WVU defensive lineman is spending his days trying to add weight to his frame.

It's a desire to be physically stronger that has motivated third-year sophomore Julian Miller to live a lifestyle this summer that would please the average Spartan.

"For the most part, I'm just taking classes and working out," said Miller. "One of the hardest things for me right now is trying to move into my new place (in Morgantown).

"It's kind of cool here in the summer because everything is so quiet. It's kind of relaxing."

Miller and his West Virginia teammates have spent very little time relaxing in the spacious weight room at the Milan Puskar Center this summer.

Under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph, Miller has begun a workout regimen that he hopes will help him add weight by the start of the team's final preseason camp in August.

"I've been trying to put some on, and one of my main goals is to be around 260 (pounds) when the season starts," said the Sherrodsville, Oh., native.

"I'm just maintaining (my weight) right now, but I hope to gain the weight I need to gradually throughout the summer."

That means adding somewhere between 10-15 pounds in the coming weeks, as Miller, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 248 pounds, said he is currently "in the high 240s."

While that may be an enviable task for the average Mountaineer fan, going back for a second plate at summer cookouts won't help Miller see the corresponding gains in strength that he hopes will come with added weight.

"It's not thinking, ‘Just eat, eat, eat,'" Miller said. "You want to eat, but you want to build on that with your workouts. So keeping active while trying to gain weight is basically what you want to do."

At the same time, the ability to focus largely on weight training in the summer, when the extra cardiovascular work that comes with actual practices and games isn't an issue, can help Miller and others add a few pivotal pounds.

"The summer is helping out a lot, where there's not as much intense stuff where I would be losing a lot of weight like what it might be during the season," Miller said.

That means Miller and others get some extra face time with the aforementioned Joseph. The second-year WVU strength coach saw fit to praise Miller's weight room work ethic in an article written by John Antonik of the Mountaineer Sports Network.

The knowledge that difference between success and failure in the fall can be the amount of work done in the offseason is the chief motivating factor for Miller, who is the presumptive starter at defensive end going into the fall.

While Joseph's extra emphasis on lifting less weight, if needed to achieve proper technique, may be a slight departure from the philosophy of the previous strength staff, Miller is a believer in the current system.

"Everything's not extremely heavy weight because some guys have back issues now, and it's not going to help them to push a lot of weight," Miller said.

"It's all about doing what you can do right now and getting through these workouts with the weight and intensity that you can do, because everything you do right now is only going to help you (in the fall)."

That "everything" continues to include the once-weekly utilization of a yoga class to help improve flexibility. While the regimen may be a bit different than the typical work done by football players, Miller said the program is anything but easy.

"It's crazy, because we'll be doing stuff for like a half an hour or 45 minutes, and the instructor will be like, ‘That's just the warmup,'" Miller said, laughing.

"I can honestly say the yoga warmup is almost as hard and intense as our regular warmup on the field. We do basic stuff, nothing too crazy -- holds, poses and stretches. It's mostly for the lower back, calves and thighs."

While summer workouts are technically voluntary, Miller understands that playing time is as well. To his mind, the offseason, like the games themselves, is a competition to be won.

"Honestly, I go into every part of the season like it's a competition," he said. "I'm competing all the way until I graduate, honestly. You're here (in the weight room) to compete and you also go out on the field to compete."

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