The Early Lead: ‘This isn’t the pinnacle’
By BRANDON HURLEY
The recruiting hoopla may be over, but Tyler Miller’s legend is just hitting its sweet spot.
It was an unbeknownst slight that allowed the Greene County junior to make his final decision and set him up for heights that have rarely been reached before.
When the University of Iowa coaching staff visited Jefferson last week and left without offering the junior offensive lineman a scholarship, he knew he’d made his decision – he was going to take his talents to Iowa State University.
Motivation is the hidden lesson here.
Miller’s career arc is far from finished, and there’s a lot left on his continually growing plate. Where could he end up in the pantheon of Greene County athletes?
Unlike recent Iowa State roster members from the humble surroundings of Greene County, Miller has more than a decent shot at playing time – he very well could become a starter.
Let’s first analyze the intangibles. It’s something Greene County head coach Mitch Moore has harped on for the past several months. Raw talent-wise, the Rams have seen nothing like Miller.
He’s a massive 6-8 and gaining weight by the day. His Twitter bio has him listed at 285 pounds, and that’s still a fairly lean 285, at least by Power 5 offensive lineman standards. He’s got room to add several more pounds, at least.
He’s athletic, can move fairly quickly around the football field (As evidenced by his repeated dominance on the defensive line this fall), and is growing stronger.
Greene County head coach Mitch Moore feels his star athlete made the right choice in deciding to set up his college roots in Ames.
“I think there is tremendous upside at Iowa State and Tyler fits right into that mold of what they are trying to do,” the coach said. “They play in the Big 12 and Tyler is an athletic tackle that will go up against really, really athletic (defensive) ends. He has the frame, the size and the length to do that.”
Right now, Iowa State’s starting left tackle, Julian Good-Jones stands at 6-5 and 296 pounds, a guy who’s started 35 consecutive games for the Ames program. The college junior is three or four inches shorter than Miller, depending on what outlet you get your information from, and only 11 pounds bigger. Give the Greene County Ram a few more years of heavy weight-lifting, proper nutrition and the natural growing process and he’s bound to crack that 300-pound mark.
Not many true freshmen lineman come in at 6-9, 300 pounds, but Miller certainly is within the realm of possibility. There have been several players much more undersized than Miller who have made an impact. With his height, he could become a pivotal part of ISU’s offensive line in a few years.
Iowa State’s program, as a whole, is certainly on the upswing, achieving an 8-4 record this fall with head coach Matt Campbell earning back-to-back conference coach of the year honors.
Miller certainly took significant strides in the off-season in addition to the 10-game schedule this fall. His improved strength was instantly noticeable, as he routinely man-handled defenders and gobbled up ball-carriers. He blasted huge running holes for running backs Clint Dennhardt and Colby Kafer. He became a force that gained steam as the year went on. Greene County head coach Mitch Moore said Miller’s growth should translate well to the Division I level.
“(Miller) gained knowledge of how to play (the position). He learned how to play O-line better and better every week,” the coach said. “And also, finishing plays. Last year, he was hesitant. This year he finished ball games. He played both sides of the ball. His stamina was better and his strength and flexibility were better. He’s the total package at left tackle in only his junior year.”
Moore wants him to keep rising up the recruiting ranks, even if the Cyclones have him locked up. He sees incredible potential in Miller, especially as his strength and knowledge continues to grow. When it’s all said and done, Moore hopes Miller is, without a doubt, the greatest athlete to ever suit up in Greene County.
“I met with him after he committed and told him, as your high school coach, my job is to get you better everyday. This isn’t the pinnacle of where you’re going to be,” Moore said. “My goal is for you to be a high school All-American and you to be the best left tackle in the country.
That’s what your goal should be and you’ve got the ability to do that. I don’t think (he) need(s) to stop here. This isn’t the end. This is another step in us becoming a great program and developing guys like this all the time.”
This process was new for Greene County head football coach Mitch Moore, too.
Moore adapts to life on other side of recruiting
Greene County head coach Mitch Moore was in a bit of unfamiliar territory these past seven or eight months.
He realized recruiting process is much more enjoyable on the other side, helping one of his very own players come to a decision.
Moore spent a handful of years as recruiting coordinator for former ISU coach Paul Rhoads and a year under Campbell before taking the job at Greene County in 2017. Of course, he knows a thing or two about reeling in big time recruits, but it was a breath of fresh air to take it in as a high school coach.
“It’s a fun thing to be apart of,” Moore said. “’I’ve been on the other side of this for so many years. Helping a kid receive a Division I scholarship was better than ever offering one. It was a really, really unique experience.”
Those years as a recruiting coordinator at the Power 5 level allowed Moore to understand the intricacies of the process, which gave him a chance to warn Miller of what was to come as offers came pouring in. It didn’t hurt to have the Cyclones pulling ahead with their comforting voices.
“It’s a hard thing, mentally, for a 15,16, 17 year old kid to go through when he has no prior knowledge of what it entails,” Moore said. “You have people trying to sell you the farm, so to speak, and you don’t know what’s true and what’s not.
The biggest thing that coach Campbell and his staff did was build the trust with Tyler. They talked about how they were going to develop him as a person.”
Miller held offers from several Division schools, including Nebraska, Minnesota, Cincinnati and UCF, while he also visited the campuses of Notre Dame and Iowa. This past year was unlike anything the lineman had endured before. Not only did he have to help lead his high school football team on the field, but he was receiving looks from all over by some of the biggest names in the game.
“It was a (humbling) process for me. I didn’t look at the offers as ‘hey, I’m better than everybody else,’” Miller said. “I just tried to keep my head and stay cool about it. I wasn’t focused on where I wanted to go until about a month ago, when football was done.
I talked with coach and it felt right.”
Moore knowing the ins and outs of the recruiting process helped Miller stay at ease. The coach filled the junior in on what to expect, and where to focus his attention.
“You don’t necessarily have to go to a place for one guy, its not always about the coaches,” Moore said. “Matt never sold them as coaches, they sold the people in the program as a whole. Some places sell coaches, but knowing Campbell, I’d put money on that he stays at Iowa State. He’s a guy that is really comfortable (in Ames), and Tyler could feel that.”
While Moore still has close ties to the ISU program, he never took advantage of it to nudge Miller in a certain direction. It did give the Clones an extra edge throughout the process though.
“(ISU) had good trust in me that I’m doing the right things in high school,” Moore said. “They never once tried to step in and influence any way in which I coached him. They kept wanting to find out who he was as a person. They earned his trust.”
With a full year of weight lifting and conditioning to go as well as another slate of high school football next fall, Miller could take the next step and become an all-time legend, not just in Jefferson, but across the entire state.
Let’s sit back and enjoy the ride, moments like these don’t come around this area very often.