Photo courtesy of www.nationalchamps.net
We have all heard about the reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week, Bruce Miller.
Yes he had an amazing game, a huge impact, and created the fumble that led to UCF’s eventual victory. But what the “outsiders” do not recognize, is that the game against Marshall was a showcase of the impact that Miller has had on this team all season long.
As a recruit, Miller came to UCF twenty pounds lighter than he is now and was not highly touted. He wasn’t on a top 100 list of national recruits, let alone Florida recruits. He wasn’t even recruited as a defensive end (originally he was set to be an inside linebacker before quickly being moved to defensive end).
Miller made his impact as a Knight his sophomore season, recording 52 tackles, seven sacks, and an interception. This season, Miller’s junior year, he leads C-USA in sacks with nine and is on pace to record twice as many as he did his sophomore season.
But when I watch him I see more than stats. He always has his motor going and hardly ever leaves the field (he plays a majority of special teams’ series as well as starting on defense) and he is a leader. Evident by the effort he made to take the ball away from Marshall in order to give us a chance to win the game.
I believe that this will transcend to the next level. UCF has only had one first round draft pick in the history of the program — Daunte Culpepper. But that does not mean that UCF hasn’t churned out any big-time talent.
A player like Brandon Marshall, for instance, has all the talent and stats to be a first-round pick. But because he doesn’t come from a big time football program, he slips into the fourth round.
Marshall is now arguably the best receiver in the NFL. He has been invited to the Pro Bowl, and is the best player on the surprising Denver Broncos.
I believe Miller and Marshall share more than initials. Miller can be the next Marshall.
I see Miller as a 3-4 linebacker in the NFL, the same as I see Florida Gator linebacker, Brandon Spikes. In comparison, Miller may not be as athletic, but he shows the same versatility being able to play defensive end, linebacker, and the ability to drop back into coverage.
What is more is that he also shows a better understanding of the game than Spikes. Spikes consistently makes inaccurate reads in defending the running game, and is most valuable as a dynamic pass rusher.
Miller on the other hand, shows great understanding and makes consistent reads in the running game, which is extremely valuable to the Knight’s defensive front-seven success.
Other players have gone from Gold and Black to the NFL and have been some of the most valuable players in the league.
Asante Samuel, for instance, won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and was their starting corner back from 2003-2007, as well as going to the Pro Bowl twice.
Cornell Green is an offensive lineman that has made a living in the NFL since 1999. Most recently, Mike Sims-Walker has emerged as the best receiver on the Jacksonville Jaguars, also on that roster—Tory Holt.
UCF has historically fostered top NFL talent in the later rounds. Just because Miller is not on a Top-25 ranked team does not mean he is not as good, if not better, than many players on those teams. Miller has been the best player on the UCF defense all season long, and he deserves to finally be recognized.