A Memorable Season in Stored for Brent Miller

A Memorable Season in Stored for Brent Miller

CAMP TONTOZONA - As a senior, Brent Miller can't help think about all the good and not so good times at the Camp T cabins. On the field, the 2007 campaign is one that could be a significant and successful year for the tight end trying to get out of the shadow of his younger and more famous NFL tight end brother. All in all, Miller is mindful of the past and the future of his Sun Devil career.

Brent Miller looks at the empty space that once occupied a cabin on the sidelines of Camp Tontozona, and can't help but think of the freshmen hazing he had to go through prior to the 2003 season. Aside from the knee injury, which occurred at camp, that forced him to redshirt that season, there were some other unpleasant experiences that took place in the pine woods outside of Payson.

"The freshman cabin was the most run down, crappiest place to live that you could possibly imagine," Miller recalled with a smile. "The seniors would come down and hit us with water balloons and squirt guns. They would fill it up with warm water and tell us it's other stuff. They used to just terrorize us throwing rocks in the cabin. There were only a couple of toilets in the cabin and the whole freshmen class was in there. It was pretty bad times…when one of the toilets got backed up, you were kind of screwed…so that's was one the lowest points at the time, but now that I look back it's pretty funny. I think the freshmen now are spoiled up there in those old sophomore cabins."

Miller added that he's likes camp for its cool weather and how it doesn't lead to his bad tan lines, like the ones the scorching Tempe sun provides…

Now that the tables are turned, and Miller is the hazer, he engages in activities such as taking away TV sets from the younger players. "That's a tradition now," he said, "the junior cabins have a lot of TV's, so as soon as the buses stop here, the seniors drop off their stuff, go down there and pick up a few TV's and add some additions to the senior cabin. Half of the TV's don't even work - we just steal them because of the tradition. Those that do work we just play video games on."

The tight end arrived one year before his brother Zach Miller, who admitted on several occasions that his closeness to brother Brent was one of the biggest reasons why the blue chip prospect chose to don the maroon and gold. Thus, ever since the younger member of the Miller family set foot on campus, the two have been inseparable, which makes Brent's camp experience these days much different.

"All of the tight ends are pretty close and we're kind of a tight knitted group," he explained. "So we do a good job of keeping each other up. One thing I thought I was gonna miss about Zach is that we kept each other up in a good mood because these two-a-days practices can get real tired. But our tight ends are doing a pretty good job picking up where Zach left off. The whole tight end group is doing pretty well now."

Needless to say that the older Miller will be constantly be compared to his younger sibling. Does that translate into overwhelming expectations going into this year? "Pressure isn't a big deal for me," claimed Miller. "I think a lot of people don't even realize who I am yet. Maybe we'll have to change that (smile)."

While spread formations will be the new staple of the ASU offense this year, the two tight end set, a prominent feature from last season, will be featured quite often. When asked what percentage of the plays will showcase two tight end sets, Miller replied that the answer is still to be determined. "Right now, I don't think the coaches even know how much we're gonna use that formation," he stated. "It kind of depends on what kind of team we're playing, how well it's working out in practice…so that's what we're doing right now, trying everything out and seeing what works. Right now we're doing about 50-50. Half of time we go two tight ends and half of the time we have one."

As the starting tight end, Miller will likely to be on the majority of snaps in either formation. Yet does he have a preference of one alignment over the other?

"It really depends on what kind of plays we're calling," he commented. "All the plays we can call are out of a two tights or one tight end set, it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference for me. Having another tight end there to block, opens me up to catch more passes. So I kind of like two tight ends (smile)."

When Dennis Erickson was hired as ASU's new head coach, he brought with him a familiar face to Miller – tight ends coach Dan Cozzetto. "It's a lot of fun," said Miller. "We've known his family for a while. My sister plays soccer at NAU with his daughter. I've known him a little bit when I was a lot younger. He's a different kind of coach than what we're used to. He yells a lot and that's kind of nice – it gets everyone into gear. If you're dragging a little bit, it gets you more upbeat and your head more into the game."

Cozzetto is certainly living up to his reputation, as the media had to wait for several minutes to interview Brent Miller, who was partaking in the customary post-practice tight end drills. "Coach Cozzetto is committed to making us better," Miller remarked. "We all like it. We're glad to stay after and we do all kinds of crazy drills. Sometimes it's longer than others. Today we got off a little easy I think."

Another trademark of Cozzetto and the new coaching staff is the numerous practice drills they do with the offensive linemen. Consequently, Miller's blocking prowess in camp has been hard to miss. "It is a little different because we never used to work with the O-Line," Miller admitted. "It's real nice because we get a bigger picture of what all the schemes are down inside, so that can help us on what we're supposed to do on the outside and on the edge, so we know where everyone is going…it definitely helps you be a better blocker. You get a different perspective, a different coach in your ear…it helps with technique, and knowing especially what not to do on your side of the ball."

When the Miller brothers lined up together at tight end, the depth at this position was hardly an issue. With the Zach Miller moving on to the NFL, how does Brent feel about the current depth at tight end? "Looks like Dane Guthrie will be the second tight end," he said. "Tyrice Thompson sometimes splits out at wide receiver and sometimes he plays at tight end and gives us help on the passing game. Brady Conrad is doing pretty well. Jovon Williams is coming along pretty well…that's what camp is all about, seeing who can fill in certain roles. Right now it looks like Dane Guthrie is doing real well at the second tight end."

Camp T is just halfway in the books, but Miller can't help reminiscing over some old and current experiences in this ASU tradition. "I'm gonna miss all the pranks we pull on each other. All the crazy things we talk about at night," he said, "you get up here and there's really no contact with other people. It's just your team, and your team, and your team. You don't get that type of bonding down in Tempe."

"You'd be surprised how weird the conversations can get. It's always things that you would never talk about if you you're weren't at Camp T…we go into weird discussions about how big the universe is or are there UFO's (laughs). You just get your mind of football."

There's no need to ever worry about Brent Miller's football focus, and that attitude could just lead to some out of this world performances. Maybe the unexpected will happen and we'll even start getting the two Miller brother confused with each other…

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