It's Still Miller's Time

With a solid performance in fall camp that included the chance to occasionally work with the No. 2 defense in scrimmages, one WVU freshman thought his transition to college football was going as smoothly as possible. That all changed just before the end of camp.

Alabama native Pat Miller was one of the standout true freshmen early in the Mountaineers' camp. The bad news finally came that the NCAA Clearinghouse had some questions about Miller's eligibility and that his status would be under review.

That meant missing a little over a week of practice, spanning the first five days of classes in the semester. Finally, word came from the NCAA on Friday that Miller was indeed eligible and could return to the field.

While having the spotlight put on his academic records may have made things a bit uncomfortable for many players, Miller is a bit more used having attention and scrutiny on him than the average true freshman.

As a player at Hoover High in his home state, Miller was one of the players featured on MTV's reality series "Two-A-Days." The program followed Hoover, one of the most successful programs in a state rich with high school football tradition, throughout an entire season.

The experience helped prepare him for the more intense media presence associated with major college football.

"We learned how to act around cameras early," Miller said. "We knew what to do and what not to do. It was just like college."

"Cameras are looking at you every day. You've got to be a good role model to be a college football player."

As tough as it may be to deal with the constant presence of a camera, the lens pales in comparison to the scrutiny players come under from their teammates and coaches.

After arriving in Morgantown, Miller quickly took to trying to learn from some of West Virginia's upperclassmen at cornerback as well as position coach David Lockwood.

"I get help from Brandon Hogan, Keith Tandy and Kent Richardson," he said. "They always tell me to just play ball. They've shown me mistakes I've made and things I need to work at. They just teach me."

And while Miller didn't have the chance to get tutelage from departed cornerback Ellis Lankster, the freshman did notice that a year of work under Lockwood helped turn Lankster into an NFL draft pick.

"I see that he's a real good coach," Miller said of Lockwood. "I just sit back and listen to what he tells me and I learn what he teaches."

The 5-foot-10, 181-pounder also is aided by the fact that he is not alone as a newcomer in the secondary. Fellow freshmen Brodrick Jenkins and Terence Garvin are also going through the growing pains associated with the transition to college football.

"It helps a lot," Miller said of having Jenkins and Garvin around. "If one person messes up, you look and see what they did wrong and you don't have to make the same mistake. Then coaches look at you like, ‘Okay, he's paying attention a lot.' Then they'll give you a chance."

Indeed, a chance is what Miller hopes to earn at some point this season.

Depth at cornerback has been one of the few perceived weak spots for the WVU defense, and an impressive showing in practices thus far may put Miller in position to contribute as a reserve in spot duty.

"I've just got to keep working," he said. "It's all opportunities out here this year. Everybody has a chance to make something happen and everybody has a chance to play."

With the eligibility worries behind him, Miller is among those competing for a chance to see the field as a Mountaineer true freshmen. "It's rough out there, but I'm getting the hang of it," he said.

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