Collin Miller is ready to step into the spotlight. The junior inside linebacker from Fishers, Indiana, has had a road filled with twists and turns to arrive at this point. He came to Nebraska as a defensive end where he impressed immediately, winning scout team MVP. Miller then converted to a pass-rushing outside linebacker but it didn't seem to fit. There were flashes of his talent, but he never quite seized the moment.
In nine games last season, Miller recorded 17 tackles including one for a loss. Now he’s heading into a season in which he stayed at the same position, allowing him to train for that spot and improve. Still, there will be some kinks to work out.
“He just needs to be around football as an inside linebacker more,” inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud said. “It’s really big difference from inside to outside linebacker in our system. One, you are kind of being told what to do and one you’re telling people what to do. I think talent-wise, he really is a talented guy when it comes to football. He just needs to get more comfortable playing on the inside.
“I think the biggest thing for him is he was a 5-technique in high school, he came here as an outside linebacker or pass rush guy. When you haven’t done something, it takes a little bit of time. Especially at that inside spot, there are a lot of moving parts and it moves really fast. You have to read keys, be in a box. You get used to being out in space playing outside. He’s progressed a long way.”
Miller echoed Ruud's feelings about the differences between playing inside linebacker versus outside linebacker in this system.
“Outside you kind of get told a little bit what to do, so you have the safety telling you what to do, the inside linebacker telling you what to do,” Miller said. “Inside linebacker you have to get the call, you have to make the call, you’ve got to tell the D-line the call, you have to tell the outside linebacker what he might have to do. You have to look back for the safety.
“There’s just a lot more things that go around the inside linebacker than it did for outside.”
If Miller is starting to sound like his coach, that’s a good thing. Embracing his new role with open arms will give Miller a much better chance of making that jump this season.
Fellow inside linebacker Mo Barry sees the growth.
“He’s grasping the technique that Coach Ruud has taught him," Barry said. "So, just the confidence part and being comfortable in what he’s doing. I’m sure it’s slowing down for him now, so he’s looking great.”
Commanding the defense is one of the final pieces of the puzzle of being an impact inside linebacker. Now that Miller is settled at the same postion, it’s a realistic possibility that he will break out this season.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.