Miller sticks around, wins job

Michael Casagrande

Running the ball was the bread and butter of the Western offense during the Jack Harbaugh era. Now, with David Elson at the Hilltopper helm, the running game looks to be as strong as ever.

Elson tabbed senior Chris Miller as the starting halfback with fellow senior Maurice Bradley leading the way at fullback.

“We feel real good about our situation in the backfield,” Elson said. “We just want to make sure we hold onto the football.”

Western lost its top three rushers from a team that was ranked sixth nationally last season in rushing.

After spending his first three seasons in a backup role, Miller will finally get his chance to be the feature back in Western’s offense. The 6-foot-1 Miller rushed for 317 yards on 59 carries last season behind Jon Frazier.

Miller has respect for Frazier for the work ethic he brought to the field on a daily basis. Elson compares Miller to Frazier in the sense that they both waited until their senior season to take over as a starter.

“If I had to give up my starting position to anybody, it would be Jon Frazier because he is a hard worker,” Miller said. “To me, he was one of the most versatile players because he has played receiver, slot back and tailback.”

Replacing a top-20 running back will not be easy for Miller, but he feels he has paid his dues and it’s time to step up.

“I’m excited, real excited,” Miller said about his chance to start at halfback. “I came in a lot more focused, and I think a lot more mature coming in for my last year.

“This summer I came in and told myself that I need to make up for the last three years that I could have played. It’s time to seize the moment.”

While Miller can be compared to Frazier in terms of his work ethic, his running style couldn’t be more different.

“They are totally different backs,” Elson said. “Miller is not as agile, but is more powerful. We feel he can be just as productive as Jon.”

Miller chuckles at any kind of comparison to Frazier when it comes to their running styles.

“I don’t try to do too much dancing, I like to play hard- nosed football,” Miller said.

Bradley will move to fullback after spending time last season at the halfback position. Bradley is the Topper’s leading returning rusher with 580 yards gained last season.

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected].