By Rich Kurtzman
Von Miller, LB #58
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
College: Texas A&M
Experience: 2 years
Linebacker Von Miller is a monster on the football field.
Ever since he first put on his Denver Broncos jersey last year, Miller’s been a menacing force for opposing offenses, though his legacy doesn’t begin there.
He started by playing for DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas, being named District 8-5A MVP in his senior season after recording 76 tackles, 14 for a loss, and six sacks. He played so well he was extended a scholarship to play at Texas A&M where Miller became one of the top collegiate defenders in the nation.
Miller was amazing for the Aggies, switching back and forth between defensive end and weakside linebacker over his four seasons with the school. In his junior year, he played defensive end and ended up leading the nation with 17 sacks–enough to be named an All-American by Sports Illustrated. In 2010, his senior season, Miller moved back to linebacker where he was just as destructive. Although an ankle sprain would sideline him for the first half of the year, he still recorded 10.5 sacks and was named the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker. That year he was also named a consensus All-American, leading to his being drafted No. 2 overall by the Broncos in 2011.
What a prodigious pick he was, as Miller has continued to dominate on the gridiron every time he takes the field.
He forced a fumble in his very first snap, a sign of the profound performances he would put together in the near future. The linebacker utilized his 4.53 speed to blow by would-be blockers and get after the quarterback again and again, recording at least half a sack in 10-15 games he participated in. He compiled 11.5 sacks, 64 total tackles and two forced fumbles last season, earning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
And with a full season under his belt, Miller is back and better than ever this season. He’s already totaled five sacks in five games and has been the Broncos’ most consistent pass-rusher by far. His best game as a professional came last week against the Patriots where he was basically the only Denver defender to show up in New England. Miller led his team in tackles with eight, and also sacked Tom Brady twice while forcing one fumble.
His first huge play came near the end of the first half, with New England knocking at the door, looking to take a 21-7 lead into the half. On a third-and-one from the Broncos’ one yard line, Miller surged, going low and under Patriots’ Pro Bowler Logan Mankins, dove at and took down running back Brandon Bolden for a five-yard loss. New England had to kick a field goal, keeping Denver within 10 points at the break. Right out of halftime, Miller made another big play, sacking Brady to force a three-and-out on the Patriots’ opening drive. In the fourth quarter—with the game on the line—he stepped it up even more. He tackled Bolden for a three-yard loss, setting up a third-and-16 in which he sacked Brady and forced the Pats to punt. Then, as the Broncos were trying to mount a comeback, the strong linebacker ripped the ball away from Stevan Ridley, setting up his team with an opportunity to get the game within three points.
Miller’s a sack specialist, using his speed to run around tackles and his power to push through their chests. He’s also grown in coverage over the last year and a half, an area he’ll only continue to improve in as he gains experience. But he’s not just about being mean and nasty; Miller’s an intelligent young man, picked to represent rookies during the 2011 NFL lockout, and his trademark glasses have become a nation-wide fashion trend.
Von Miller is a star in the making, and if it weren’t for Peyton Manning, he’d be the face of the Broncos.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.