Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

‘It Was a Fun Run’: Husker ILB Collin Miller Says He’s Hanging Up the Cleats

December 15, 2020

Collin Miller will hang up the cleats. After medical advice from a neurologist, the Husker senior inside linebacker told media Tuesday afternoon he is planning to retire from football. 

“I talked to one neurologist that’s with the staff and he kind of gave me the options and put everything out on the line. He thinks it’s probably not the best situation to come back and play football,” Miller said.

“Looking down the road with my health, I probably won’t be coming back. I’ll probably hang up the cleats for good. Just for health reasons and to make sure I’m able to throw the football with my kid down the road or drive my own car or take a shower on my own and feed myself on my own. It was a scary situation against Illinois, scary feelings I’ve never felt before. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”

Miller suffered what was called a spinal concussion following a head-on collision against Illinois on Nov. 21. The game paused for medical personnel to tend to Miller on the field. He was then stretchered off and immediately taken to a hospital, where he stayed overnight. 

“My health’s pretty good (right now),” he said. “I think a lot of the stuff that happened against Illinois was precautionary. Going to the hospital was a lot of precautionary things. Stayed overnight for precautionary reasons. I’m doing much better than I was before.”

He thanks fans and his teammates for that. 

Miller estimated that he’s received thousands of handwritten letters at the stadium from fans checking in, offering prayers, sharing positive thoughts. He’s seen the social media messages.

“That’s one of the reasons why I came to Nebraska,” he said. “The people here around this state are just so welcoming with big hearts and open arms.”

As defensive coordinator Erik Chinander retold the story of that weekend, he shared that Miller arrived at Memorial Stadium early that following Monday morning to go through meetings, had a script in his hand on the practice field, and was in every special teams/position meeting from then on.

“He’s an awesome kid,” Chinander said.

Added reserve linebacker Nick Henrich: “I already thought the world of his character before the injury, but this has just made me respect him more as a guy.”

Miller said he just needed to be around his teammates as soon as possible.

“I knew those guys would lift me up and put a smile on my face,” he said. “Those are my guys ‘till the end. I knew I just wanted to get back because they were gonna do everything in their power to keep me happy, just like I’m trying to keep them happy and motivated.”

That last part has certainly been noticed by his teammates.

“I thought he was gonna be down,” said senior safety Marquel Dismuke. “Sometimes with an injury like that people can go into a depression, but Collin’s been great. He’s been more enthusiastic than I’ve ever seen him, more into practice, more into getting people ready on the sidelines and being the hype man and having all the energy. When the energy was low, he was bringing the energy. I love him for that, to just keep going and keep having love for the sport.”

Maybe there’s a coaching career to be jumpstarted in the future. Miller said it’s something he’s had penciled in as a thing to do after football, but right now he’s taking things a day at a time. 

Before his injury, Miller had started 16 consecutive games dating back to the 2019 season. He had 67 tackles a season ago and 27 to start the 2020 campaign. 

No one expects to have their football career end prematurely—Miller had NFL aspirations—but he doesn’t necessarily view his career as being cut short.

“When I was a little kid, that was always one of my goals, to play football as long as I could,” he said. “One thing about Nebraska, they treat you like an NFL team out here. They treat you like a celebrity. I can kinda say that I played and fulfilled those achievements I wanted to reach, playing for the great state of Nebraska.”

And he got to take the field one last time on Saturday for Senior day.

“We walked that tunnel that we came out hundreds and hundreds of times, and that one I’ll just remember for the rest of my life,” he said. 

“It was a fun run.”

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