Cover photo from Mike Vosburg
Ada-Borup senior Mason Miller knew he wanted to be a college athlete, but he thought it was going to be in a different sport. He had such a good junior football season that he had to re-think his plans.
After a tough first half against Barnesville in the opener, Ada-Borup has played well. Although they lost game one, they outscored Barnesville in the second half and have won their last two games.
“We’ve made mistakes here and there, but we will work those things out,” Miller said. “I think we have a good team this year.”
The running game and stopping the run have been the biggest keys in the Cougars’ 2-1 start.
“On defense, I think we fill the gaps we need to fill from all three levels,” Miller explained. “On offense, we are good at getting to the next level with our blocks and have fast guys in the backfield.”
Although he is one of the top football players in the state of Minnesota – Miller is continually looking to improve.
“I am always going to say I can do better. Watching film, you always see what you did wrong. It seems like the more you break down yourself; the more critical you become of yourself.”
Miller plays tight end and defensive end.
“I feel like I don’t give up on the play on offense,” northstarfootballnews.com’s 23rd ranked senior said. “When the play is going opposite of me, I am always trying to get to the second level and help break the long run. I don’t give up on the play very easily.”
Miller feels his best and worst traits are the same thing.
“Probably my best and worst thing on defense is I am good at reading the plays. I used to play linebacker, so I still am in the groove of reading the play and sometimes at defensive line you just have to get after it, and I am busy reading the play. Sometimes that helps me, and sometimes it hurts me.”
Although he plays tight end, he was recruited primarily as an offensive tackle.
“It was unique,” Miller admitted. “North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Iowa and a lot of different colleges were looking at me to play offensive line, but it was unique because most kids don’t get recruited to play different positions. Minnesota and Wisconsin said tight end or defensive end. Iowa State said defensive end. It was unique meeting with all the different position coaches and seeing how they wanted me to fit in at the different positions.”
Miller’s athletic resume is up there with anyone in the state.
“I play basketball and am in track,” Miller said. “During basketball, I don’t lift every morning, but I tried to get in there twice a week to try to maintain. After basketball, I started lifting five days a week and did that all summer. I put on thirty pounds before the start of the football season. In basketball, we took 4th place at State. I play center and am a pretty integral part of the offense and defense. I have the school record in rebounds, I think I am second in blocks, and I just scored my 1000th point last year. In track, I got 4th place at State in the discus, and 8th place in the shot put.”
Once the track season ended, Miller’s focus turned to football.
“A friend of mine plays for Mayville State, and in the summer, I lifted with him and used his program.”
If he is going to have success at the next level, Miller knows where he must improve.
“I need to work on my footwork and am very raw. I don’t know much about pass pro. It has always been put a hat on someone.”
Despite his own admission of shortcomings, Miller was sought after by some of the biggest programs in the Midwest. It was a surprise to even Miller.
“I enjoyed my recruiting process,” Miller said. “I didn’t think I would be playing college football so when NDSU – who was the first team to start talking to me and were my first offer – it was weird right away because I was hoping for basketball, but when NDSU came along, it was such an honor even to be recruited by them.”
Iowa, South Dakota State were the other schools Miller – who likes to fish for northern and hunt deer – was considering, but the Bison won out.
“They are 45 minutes from my home,” Miller explained. “I felt a good connection with the guys. I felt like I was similar to them. The facilities were top-notch. I am not a huge facilities guy, but they were impressive.”
Miller would still have plenty of time to take college visits and mull over his college decision, but Miller didn’t want to waste any more time.
“I felt like it was the right timing. Going into the summer, I didn’t want to be calling two or three coaches a night – that what it has gotten to be. I wanted to enjoy my summer a little bit. It was the right time and the right place.”
And – as it turned out – the right sport.