Champlin Park’s Jaice Miller went through many changes since his sophomore season. As a sophomore, he was the backup quarterback for the Rebels. As a junior, he was a starting wide receiver. This offseason, he had to deal with an injury, and now he is back at quarterback. With all the change, at least two things have stayed the same – a Rebels’ successful season and Miller’s continued solid play.
“The season is going pretty good,” Miller said. “We have started 5-1. The first couple of games the offense got off to a slow start, but the whole offensive line returned, so that has helped us run the ball more this year and take a little pressure off me as the quarterback. It has been nice to hand the ball off. We have a good running back in Shawn Shipman.”
“Our defense is playing well,” Miller continued. “Our defensive line and linebackers are as good as anyone in the state. We are a running team on offense. Our line gets a good push off the ball, and Shipman has been running the ball well.”
Last year’s move to receiver gave Miller a new perspective on the position.
“Last year was my first year at receiver. I had always been a quarterback,” Miller explained. “We talked about it this offseason, and I pretty much knew I was moving back to quarterback this year. Last year gave me a good perspective on the wideouts. I used to think it was easy to catch balls, but now when they drop balls, I understand. It is a lot harder than it looks.”
With limited experience at the position, Miller made it look easy.
“I had a lot of confidence playing receiver. With my height and speed, I think I was able to get by most corners. My ability to catch the ball was pretty good.”
This year he is back at this natural position.
“As a quarterback, I think I can get out of the pocket and throw it around. I think that is one of my strengths. I am trying to get better in the pocket, stepping up and throwing downfield more.”
This winter, NFN’s 25th ranked senior football player, played basketball.
“Last year, I went into the season not knowing if I was going to be JV or varsity,” the two-sport athlete said. “Towards the end of the year, I was getting some quality varsity time on a good team. I played forward. We had some good scorers, so I mostly rebounded, played defense, and passed the ball.”
Shortly after the basketball season, Miller’s offseason took a turn for the unexpected.
“This offseason, I had a shoulder injury. I had a partial tear in my labrum and had to rehab it, and didn’t do any throwing at all. I didn’t do much upper bodywork, but I did a lot of footwork stuff and worked on my quickness – especially worked on a more explosive first step.”
During the pre-season, the 6’4″ 215-pound Miller was still not physically ready.
“I would stand behind the offense, watching the defense and trying to take as many mental reps – see where I would go with the ball – as I could. When the first game came, that was my first live-action since last year.”
The shoulder injury, nor the position change hampered recruiting last offseason.
“I went to a couple of camps as a wideout, so my shoulder didn’t have an effect on that,” Miller told northstarfootballnews.com. “It was my first experience with football camps. It was fun to see how they ran those. I went to South Dakota State and North Dakota because I had offers from them.”
What did hamper recruiting was the change in his offer situation.
“The (offers) had a deadline on them, so I don’t have those offers now,” Miller said. “I have a bunch of Division II offers right now. Fall came so fast, and with a pretty good junior year, my plan was always to wait on my decision until my senior year. I don’t want to rush into anything.”
Augustana, Princeton, Valparaiso, Mankato, Southwest Minnesota State, University of Mary, and Minnesota-Duluth have offered Miller. He believes he is being recruited mainly as a receiver.
“The thing I hear the most has to do with my ball control. They like that I can go up and get the ball. They like my speed and how tall I am.”
After the basketball season, Miller knows he needs to focus on playing receiver.
“I need to work on my route running,” Miller admitted. “Being that last year was my first year playing receiver, I don’t have much experience running routes. I need to focus on my technique.”
If Miller’s history tells colleges anything, he will continue to improve his skills and become a valued member of any team he joins.