MIAMI — One call can change everything. That is what happened to Kyle Miller, the former Elida and Mount Union standout football player.
A three-time First Team All-Ohio Athletic Conference selection for the Purple Raiders, Miller was part of two NCAA Division III National Championship teams.
After going undrafted in 2011, Miller — a tight end — signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the NFL lockout happening, Miller’s task of making the team was even tougher because he did not get a full mini-camp under his belt before training camp and was later released.
After accepting the head football coaching position at Columbus Grove High School, Miller received the call that most players dream of: The Indianapolis Colts called him and wanted him to come to their camp and Miller signed on April 3.
“It was a tough decision (leaving the Columbus Grove coaching job) because going into the interview, I didn’t expect much,” Miller said. “With the lockout, I felt like I didn’t have a fair chance. I wanted just one more shot.”
Keeping in touch with his agent, Miller still had hopes of keeping his dream alive.
“It was a shock when I got the call,” Miller said. “Indianapolis got a hold of me before my agent did.”
Spending most of the regular season on Indianapolis’ practice squad, Miller was promoted to the active roster and got to see his first career regular season action against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 11, on Nov. 18, in which the Patriots defeated the Colts 59-24.
“That was a great experience,” Miller said. “It was a big game for both teams. We actually drove down the field and scored right away but Tom Brady did what he does best and brought his team back. I was in on a goal line set for three plays.”
Miller was released by the Colts the next day on Nov. 19. The Miami Dolphins claimed him off waivers on Nov. 20.
“Miami is a good organization,” Miller said. “I’ve spent the last six weeks down there and when I got there, they still had high hopes of reaching the playoffs.”
Since Miller has been in the NFL, he has had the pleasure of playing with three rookie quarterbacks. He played with Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville when Gabbert was a rookie in 2011, and he has also played with Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill this season.
“Ryan is a lot quieter than you’d expect,” Miller said. “But he took charge once he was on the field. Luck was more high profile but it has been fun playing with Ryan.”
Standing at 6-5 and weighing 260 pounds is one of the main reasons why NFL teams have been interested in Miller the past two seasons. Being big isn’t the only trait Miller brings to an organization.
“I definitely think my biggest strength comes in the passing game,” Miller said. “I think I do a good job of using my hands and body to get open.”
When Miller was in college, the NCAA made it clear that athletes can only spend 20 hours a week with football so that athletes can focus on their studies. Now that Miller plays professionally, football is his full-time job.
“A majority of NFL teams get Tuesdays off and we have what is called victory Mondays, which means if we win we usually get that Monday off as well,” Miller said. “If not, we watch film and get a lift in. Wednesdays and Thursdays are the long days. Your group comes in and lifts around 7 a.m., and we’re usually done with meetings and practice around 5:30 or 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday go pretty quick depending on if we travel or not.”
With Miami finishing second place in the AFC East and not making the postseason, Miller hopes his future will continue to be in South Beach as starting tight end Anthony Fasano becomes a free agent.
“Right now my wife is finishing up school so we’re back in Lima until mid-April,” Miller said. “That is when I’ll head down to Miami for workouts. It will be interesting to see what transpires with Fasano.”