[caption id="attachment_422002" align="aligncenter" width="513" caption="Iowa's Tanner Miller (5) intercepts a pass on the 2-yard-line during the first half of their game against Northwestern Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Miller retuned the ball 98 yards for a touchdown. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)"]
FREE SAFETY TANNER MILLER
Iowa coaches didn’t offer Miller, a former Mid-Prairie prep from Kalona, until just a few days before signing day in 2010.
Three final offers (tight ends Brandon Myers and Allen Reisner and center Mike Elgin) have spent time in the NFL. Sophomore Dominic Alvis will start on the defensive line this fall. Tight end George Kittle was the last commitment in the 2012 class.
Here’s why this often works:
“It was something that I had to prove to everyone,” said Miller, who committed to an 80-percent scholarship at Northern Iowa and considered walking on at Nebraska and Missouri. “I came in with a chip on my shoulder being the last guy to get offered. It was just a fun process and I’m glad I got the opportunity.”
The “fun” part comes with the story of when Miller, a 6-2, 201-pound junior, officially accepted the offer from Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. Miller and his Mid-Prairie basketball teammates were on a bus on their way back to Wellman after a game in Fairfield. Miller was tipped off by his dad, Brian, that he might be getting a phone call from someone high up the chain of command at Iowa.
Ferentz called Miller’s cell and offered the scholarship.
“Coach called me and I had all my teammates up in my ear, trying to listen in,” said Miller, who missed four to five months of offseason workouts following shoulder surgery. “They didn’t believe me at first, that it was him. Then, I got off the phone and told them what happened. The bus just went crazy. It’s a great memory, great experience.”
2012 Takeoff: Miller finished fourth on the team in tackles. He also tied cornerback Micah Hyde for the team lead with three interceptions, including the highlight of his season, a 98-yard INT return for a TD against Northwestern. That tied Adam Shada's 98-yard INT return against Purdue in '06.
Miller showed some strike in run support (three tackles for loss) and also had three pass breakups.
Miller had huge successes after breaking into the lineup in week 3. The nature of the free safety position shoves Miller out on the ledge. His mistakes are noticeable and there were a few last season in Iowa's zone. Miller and cornerback Shaun Prater took equal blame for big plays made on their side of the field. No player is perfect, but big plays are a killer for all defenses.
This is completely fixable and you expect Miller to have that front and center in his preparation for 2012. With a nearly a full year as a starter on the resume, expect Miller to play with confidence and to have impact in '12.
Iowa's secondary will be a strength for Iowa's defense in '12. First-year D-coordinator Phil Parker, a former all-Big Ten safety at Michigan State in the '80s, will lean on Miller to direct coverage.
Miller's journey has been incredibly interesting, from last recruiting taking a call from Kirk Ferentz on a school bus to quarterback of the secondary. It can become even more interesting in '12.
BTW, Miller will be the extra safety in the box (near) the line of scrimmage, when and if the press coverage from the cornerbacks happens.