With 74 days until Virginia Tech faces Alabama in the Georgia Dome, we turn our attention to no. 74 on roster Mr. Andrew Miller.Coming off of an impressive sophomore season, Miller’s stock was incredibly high last fall. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to an ankle injury. This spring, you could tell Miller wasn’t completely 100-percent healed from the injury. Obviously, he has been cleared to play medically but sometimes it takes a few additional months to overcome an injury like that mentally. With a full summer to prepare and regain some confidence in his lower extremities, I think the Bassett grad will be the odds on favorite to start at right guard this fall.
Weight: 304 lbs
High School: Bassett High School
High School Career
While Miller was recruited as an interior lineman by every school that recruited him, at least all the major ones that is, he was also a talented defensive lineman in high school. As a defensive tackle, the Virginia native tallied 102 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and forced three fumbles. That effort led to terrific honor of being included on the VHSL AA All-State team.
As far as his recruitment was concerned, the Hokies were the odds on favorite after they offered but the Florida State offer made some Tech insiders nervous. However, Miller made his decision semi-official when he verbaled to the Hokies on June 23rd, 2008.
Reasons For Excitement
Experience: Although all of Miller’s starting experience is at center, the transition to guard isn’t a tough one physically. It requires a lot of the same technique, footwork, and physical toughness. The one difference is Miller no longer has to concentrate on snapping the ball before engaging a defender. Heading into this fall, Miller has over 1300 snaps under his belt. He is by far the most experienced lineman on the team.
Has The Ability to Dominate Opposing Linemen: When you watch film from his sophomore season, Miller was always a guy that would hold his own. Most of our breakdowns came elsewhere on the line and he showed a lot of promise as a pass blocker as well. Last year, he, along with the rest of the line, struggled mightily early on in the season. But, when Miller plays well he is easily our best and most consistent blocker.
Versatility: Although David Wang may be the backup center on the depth chart when a new one is released this fall, Miller would likely take over the starting job at center if Farris had to leave the game for any reason. I think Tech would be much more comfortable with Brent Benedict sliding in at right guard then having Logan Thomas work with David Wang at center.
Causes For Concern
Bad Spring Game: I know Chris Coleman touched on this during one of his segments on the J.D. Howell Show but Miller had a tough spring game. I don’t think that’s a good representation of the type of player he is but he struggled to get much of a push against our 2nd and 3rd string defensive tackles. Some of that may be attributed to him overcoming an injury but Tech was four weeks into practice. Hopefully, it was just a bad day. Every player has a few.
Confidence: Whenever you go through a tough season, how you respond the following year is really a testament to your character and your love for the game. Miller didn’t set the world on fire this spring but I’m hoping a few extra months will help him overcome his injury last year and rebuild some confidence. Completing all of his weight lifting requirements this summer and returning to Blacksburg in good shape this August would be a terrific way to start fall camp.
What to Expect in 2013
When it comes to these offensive line articles, I don’t think anybody knows what to expect. But, I’m penciling Miller in as our starting right guard. Although he didn’t really “win” that job with his performance at the end of the Spring, I think he’s our best option at the position. Benedict was a highly touted recruit but his knee injury has definitely hampered him. He can’t move his feet as fast as he needs to in some cases and that hurts his value.
If Miller can keep himself away from Dr. Goforth and in the starting lineup, I expect him to be a guy that plays well over 700 snaps this fall. I think he’ll start every game at right tackle and will develop into one of our better run blockers. I do think the one advantage of having Miller at guard now is he’s an excellent guy to pull on counter plays. He has decent foot speed for a player his size and could be a nice road grader. We didn’t see any of that this spring but there was a good reason for that.
NFL Draft Analysis
Interior offensive linemen are usually not drafted as high as left and right tackles. But, it varies by draft and is dependent on the need of the franchise and the quality of the player. Right now, I have Miller as a 7th round pick or an undrafted free agent. I think he could easily improve that stock with a good performance this fall. He’ll need that to receive an invite to Indianapolis next year to take part in the NFL combine. I think his ceiling will be late 4th round but that would really require a superb season and a terrific performance at next year’s combine. A bit more realistic projection would be somewhere in the 7th round.
The Bassett, Virginia native is our most experienced offensive lineman. Although he’s going through a position change, I think Miller should become our most consistent player up front and will give right guard a much-needed upgrade from a year ago.