ART ROONEY II
Good morning. We're excited this morning to be welcoming Heath Miller to the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh.*
I'm always reluctant to compare players from one era to another, but waking up on a cold Pittsburgh morning here in April I was thinking about John Stallworth's story about his first day in Pittsburgh. He was a young guy from a small Southern town. He got here and it was a cold day in Pittsburgh and he wondered if he was in the right place. But it got better from there and so, Heath, it'll get better from here. We look forward to bigger things and better weather.*
First my father and I would like to present Heath with a new jersey (No. 83).*
And Heath is currently carrying four classes to graduate this year, so we can't keep him too long. But it's my pleasure to introduce the newest Pittsburgh Steeler, Heath Miller.*
I just want to say that I'm happy to be here. This is a great organization with a great tradition behind it, a good coaching staff and a great group of players, so I'm excited to be here and get started.
Q: Ever been in Pittsburgh before?
A: One other time. That was to visit the Steelers, so this (South Side facility) is the only place I know.
Q: So, are you in the right place?
A: I think so. Like I said, it's a place with a lot of history, a lot of tradition, great group of owners. I couldn't be more honored to be a part of this.
Q: Did you meet Ben Roethlisberger? If so, what are your thoughts on that and how he played last year?
A: I didn't get a chance to meet him personally, but I did get a phone call from him as soon as I was drafted, so I think that speaks volumes about his character and I'm anxious to be able to play with him for many years, hopefully.
Q: What did he tell you?
A: He just welcomed me to the team. He told me he was happy to have me as a teammate and I told him the same.
Q: Did he tell you he'd like to throw you a lot of passes?
A: No, not at all. We know that we're going to do what we have to do to win, whether that be running or passing.
Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
A: I want to be a complete tight end. I want to be a good blocker and I want to run routes and catch the ball. I realize it's a different level. The NFL's full of great athletes. I have to raise my level of game in every aspect to be competitive and to be successful here.
Q: In light of your recovery from injury, do you want to do much at minicamp (May 6-8)?
A: I'm anxious to get started. I'm going to meet with the coaches and trainers and kind of assess my situation and we'll go from there.
Q: Why didn't you put out more information regarding your recovery?
A: Actually my agent did send a letter out from my doctor to tell everyone my rehab was on pace, I was ahead of schedule and everything was fine. Obviously there was a concern with the injury but I'm confident that I'll be back 100 percent soon.
Q: What can't you do in your recovery?
A: At this point I'm doing everything - agilities, running routes, lifting weights. I'm just not up to 100 percent yet but I'm well on my way.
Q: How would you assess your blocking?
A: Changing from quarterback, that was always something that I had to work on, so it's been a work in progress, but I feel like I really made improvements throughout my career and I'm ready to continue to improve and be a capable blocker at this level.
Q: For 10 years this team hasn't thrown too much to the tight end. Do you think they will change their way?
A: Well, I think what they're doing here is pretty good. They were 15-1 last year and they ran the football a whole lot, so I'm sure that's going to be much of the same this year and I hope to be a contributor on the blocking aspect.
Q: Have you met any Steelers yet?
A: I've met a couple other guys. I just met Jerome Bettis. It's going to be an honor for me to be on the field with him and be one of his teammates.
Q: What did he say to you?
A: He just welcomed me to the team and to the organization.
Q: After you moved to tight end, did you only throw one pass in a game after that?
A: Yeah, I threw one pass my freshman year. I was one for one so I might just want to leave it at that.
Q: Where were you lined up?
A: I was on the outside and they threw a pass out to me, and a double pass.
Q: Where all did you line up in college?
A: We ran a lot of multiple formations at Virginia so I was in a number of spots, whether it be split out, in the backfield a couple of times, and on the line of scrimmage also.
Q: Where did you think you would wind up before you woke up Saturday?
A: To be honest with you, I didn't have a clue where I was going to be. I knew that Pittsburgh was interested and I'm very happy to be here. I'm glad it worked out this way and I can't wait to get started.
Q: Who did you grow up rooting for?
A: In the NFL, I didn't have any one particular team. I kind of followed Randall Cunningham and the Eagles a little bit when I was probably 10, 11, 12 years old, but no one favorite team.
Q: Heath, you made the adjustment from quarterback to tight end in college. Now, Matt Jones is trying to do it in the pros. Does he have a lot of work ahead of him?
A: I think he definitely has a lot of work ahead of him, but he's already proven that he's a phenomenal athlete. That's going to go a long way in helping him become a good player.
Q: Does it make you nervous to be compared to Todd Heap? And since you played at Virginia for Al Groh, a former NFL coach, will that help you in your transition into the NFL?
A: As far as comparisons are concerned, I try not to pay a lot of attention to them and just try to be the best player that I can be. As far as playing for coach Groh, I think it's definitely going to be beneficial. He's been at this level. He knows what it takes to be a good player at this level. I tried to take his advice and listen to him as much as I could throughout my years there.
Q: Does this make you a big deal in your hometown?
A: I guess you could say that. I haven't been back there in awhile but there's not a whole lot going on, so I'm sure this is exciting news.
Q: What's your hometown like, Heath?
A: It's small. There's a hundred people in my graduating class, about 400 people total in the high school, so there's not too much going on, so I'm sure this made the news.
Q: When you quarterbacked your high school team to the state finals, what level of play was it?
A: There's six total divisions with Six being the highest in Virginia, and we were Division Two.
Q: What was that like in your town? Or is there great tradition in your town?
A: Our football program's been pretty good. We've never won a state championship. That was the first time to the state finals to my knowledge. So, yeah, a lot of people always showed up on Friday nights. It was kind of a big thing to do, so it was exciting being a part of that.
Q: What kind of advice did coach Groh give you about making the transition to the NFL?
A: He just advised me to be a professional and that it's my job now and should be my number one priority, and I should be prepared and work accordingly.
Q: How big were you when you went to Virginia as a quarterback and did you have to get much bigger?
A: I weighed 235 when I reported to Virginia. I've put on 20 pounds since then, so it wasn't that big of a change for me.
Q: Are you ready from the scrutiny of these rabid fans?
A: I realize that football's a big deal here and I'm going to enjoy that. I'm glad I'm in a town that really follows football, and are big fans of football like Steelers fans are, and I'm anxious to go out and perform and hopefully please you guys with my performance.
Q: Heath, where are you most effective as a receiver? What's your best route?
A: I think at Virginia I was able to work over the middle a little bit. I was able to do a variety of things, but I caught a lot of balls over the middle and this past year I caught a lot of balls on bootleg passes - just depending on our quarterbacks. I enjoy doing all those things and I'm anxious to do some of that here.
Q: Were you used in the red zone?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Did coach Groh tailor the offense to you to some degree?
A: I don't think he tailored the offense. We had a number of good skill players at Virginia and I think he and coach Prince did a great job of utilizing all of our weapons.
Q: When will you come back for good here?
A: There's a minicamp, not this weekend but the next, and then I think I'll be able to report for good after my final exam, which I think is May 15th.
Q: Did the transition from small town to UVA prepare you for the culture shock you're going to go through now?
A: Maybe a little. It wasn't too shocking for me. I usually adapt pretty well to different situations. I don't foresee that being a big problem for me here. I know football's going to be my number-one priority. That's been a big part of my life in high school, college, so it's going to be the same here.
Q: Were you a celebrity down there in school and are you comfortable being that now?
A: That may be something I'm going to have to get used to dealing with but I think I'll adjust well.
Q: Which tight end do you try to emulate?
A: No one in particular. I enjoy watching all tight ends and trying to learn from what they're doing well and what they're doing not-so-well and just kind of add that to my game.
Q: Heath, could you tell me a little bit about your family and growing up?
A: I grew up in a small town. I was raised by both of my parents. My dad builds houses for a living. My mom works for the local community college. I have a younger sister who attends UVA as well. She's a freshman there.
Q: Is she an athlete?
A: In high school she was, but not at the college level.
Q: How much paraphernalia did you have to take back to your high-school coach? Isn't he a big Steeler fan?
A: Yeah. Yeah, he's a big Steeler fan so I sent him a hat.
Q: So did you do a lot of work with your dad building houses?
A: A little bit. I worked a little bit with him. He would only let me sweep the sawdust and carry the scrap wood, so that wasn't too fun. But yeah when I wasn't training for football I helped him out a little.
Q: A lot of quarterbacks who switched to other positions never stop thinking they could've proved to be a quarterback? Any thoughts like that for you?
A: No. I don't think so. I was kind of a realist in that regard. I saw the situation there at Virginia. There were a number of good quarterbacks in front of me, so I'm very happy with the switch. I think it's worked out well.
Transcript: Heath Miller introduced
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