State of the Hogs: Reid Miller ready for another road trip

By: Clay Henry
Published: Friday, April 13, 2018
Arkansas safety Reid Miller blocks on a kickoff return during a game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas safety Reid Miller blocks on a kickoff return during a game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

— Players come and go at Arkansas. Sometimes you don't ever know them and they are forgettable anyway.

Reid Miller is leaving the Razorbacks, but he's going to be hard to forget. He's everything you'd ever want in a Razorback.

Ken Hatfield used to call them "Fighting Razorbacks." That's Reid Miller.

Miller's niche has been on special teams. That's appropriate because he's special.

Undersized as far as height, he always played tall on kickoff and punt teams while making plays for three seasons. If you wanted a treat, you followed No. 38 down the field on a kickoff to watch him splatter a ball carrier or a blocker.

At 5-9, 201 pounds, Miller has been among the smallest wrecking balls in the SEC over the last three seasons. But I'm going to have to follow him from afar over the next season.

Miller has decided to exercise his right as a graduate transfer following a spring that put him behind with the new coaching staff. He required an appendectomy prior to spring practice.

He's ready for another journey in his football travels that have taken him from Pennsylvania to Florida and Arkansas.

Who knows his next state. He may expand to a different country at some point.

The Holidaysburg, Pa., product via IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., will look next week at places to begin his Masters degree in business. He'll have his business degree at the UA in supply chain logistics, and one year of eligibility left.

There's a thought that Miller might be back to our area. Supply chain logistics fits with many of the Walmart vendors with satellite offices in Northwest Arkansas.

“I'd love that,” Miller said. “I'd come back here for a job in a second. I've loved it here. It's a great place to live.

“I have had a blast here. The fans have been nothing other than great. I'd say as a player, I've always felt that you are nothing without the fans and our fans here are the greatest anywhere.

“It's been really gratifying to me. You go out there in front of 75,000 and just want to play for them. They've treated me with great respect.”

Miller says much the same about new Arkansas coach Chad Morris.

“I've got nothing against Coach Morris, or his staff,” Miller said. “He's a great guy and a great coach.

“For me, it's about a lot of different things. First, the Masters program that I want is being restructured here at Arkansas and it won't be available in the fall. So I need to look elsewhere.

“I just look at the depth chart. I know early in the spring you better take it with a grain of salt, but I was listed fourth to start spring and then I couldn't be out there because of my surgery. I know freshmen are coming at my position and I'd think the new coaches would want their guys.

“So I'm just demoralized after being in the two-deep my last two seasons and competing for playing time last year. I just want an opportunity to get on the field for more than special teams for my last season.”

There's not a clear idea of where that might happen, although Northern Iowa is a target for at least one visit. He's hopeful to visit Coastal Carolina, too.

“My parents have a place in South Carolina not far from Conway, where Coastal is at,” Miller said. “So maybe that's a good place for me, a new FBS team.

“I just want an opportunity to get on the field (at safety) and not just play special teams. I want to keep playing football after college.”

It doesn't matter where, either.

“No, if it isn't in the NFL, then in Canada,” he said. “I'm not opposed to playing in Germany, either. I just love it and want to keep playing, but I need to get on the field somewhere next year and show what I can do.

“Playing in Germany after college appeals to me. My coach from IMG is at a first-division team in Germany now.

“What I've learned, it's all about who you know so you can get that opportunity. I'm not sure all where I'll look at for next year. I doubt anyone knows I'm even an option, because I'm just announcing that I'm going to be a graduate transfer.

“Northern Iowa comes to mind because I've got a former high school teammate playing there. He started out at Purdue, then transferred. So he told the coaches about me. Someone has to get the coaches interested to look at you. I think the coach there knows the coaches I played for here.”

Miller was in sweats for the Red-White game. He'd been cleared for some work in the last week of spring.

“There was a thought that maybe I could play in the game, but I hadn't practiced,” he said. “And, I was worried about the risks of such a recent surgery. You are at risk for a hernia. So I thought it was best to just sit out and not put a possible transfer in jeopardy with an injury. No one wants damaged goods.”

After the coaching change, things started well in January.

“We came back from winter break to meet our new coaches and the new strength and conditioning coaches," Miller said. "I love (strength coach) Trumain Carroll and all of his staff. I think they are really good. They made me one of the team captains for our strength and conditioning competitions and I thought it went well.”

The timing of the appendectomy got him, though.

“Probably so,” he said. “Oh, well, I think it's just time to take the next step and look for another opportunity.”

It's a new chapter. The last one was never something he imagined, so he's fine with trying something new again. Former UA coach Bret Bielema invited Miller as a walk-on then gave him a scholarship.

Bielema said last fall about the first time he saw Miller at IMG. He knew he'd help in special teams because of his work ethic and ability.

"He'd have to overcome his lack of height," Bielema said. "But he was the type that all you ever need to tell him was that there is an opportunity there. He is going to seize it. He has done that with us. He helped us with the way he worked and then the way he performed in games.

"What I'll say about Reid Miller is that he's a great teammate and is always going to perform at a high level. He earns respect from his teammates."

Miller loved competing against the top teams in college football.

“Who would think where I grew up as a small town kid in the heart of Pennsylvania that I'd play in the SEC West against Alabama, LSU and all the rest?” he said. “It's been awesome. I never could have dreamed it.

“I will always be thankful for Bret Bielema. He came to IMG to look at Hjalte Froholdt and the next thing I knew, I was coming here. Coach Bielema was great to give me this chance. I know he's friends with a lot of coaches across the country. I may talk to him about my next step.

“You think about the memories of the games here, but that's not what you remember the most. It's the relationships you build.

“Guys like Hjalte and all of the others on the team. I've got so many friends. I'm close to guys like Jalen Merrick, Austin Cantrell and Ty Storey. They are all from different places, but we've become so close.”

Stats don't tell the story of what Miller gave to the Razorbacks. He is credited with 20 tackles in three years of special teams play. He was also the holder on field goals and extra points last season, but he's also been a leader in the weight room and on the practice field.

“I just tried to give everything I had on every play, every practice, every workout,” he said. “That's what I was taught by my mom and dad.

“We don't really know where that will take you, but it usually works out.”

There was talk about a possible fly fishing trip to Pennsylvania during an interview last fall.

“That is still going to happen,” Miller said. “You just have to come.”

That will be perfect for a follow-up column on the next fun chapter in the Reid Miller story. So far, every chapter has been great.


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