The ACC Kickoff (aka media days) is fast approaching, something we media members consider the unofficial start of the football season. That’s not until July 21, however. In the meantime, it’s as good a time as any to start taking a closer look at Virginia Tech.
This isn’t a list of the 25 best players on the Hokies’ roster. It’s a list of 25 things/people/ideas that will determine whether Virginia Tech’s 2013 season is a success or not. Next up is …
No. 23: Andrew Miller, center/guard
As if Virginia Tech’s offensive line didn’t have enough troubles last year, it lost perhaps its most important returning piece in the seventh week, when Miller broke his fibula and tore ligaments in his left ankle against Duke.
Without Miller, the Hokies had a constantly rotating interior line with no true anchor, something that adversely affected the group the rest of the season.
Well, Miller returned in the spring … sort of. His leg/ankle wasn’t quite 100 percent, but he fought through plenty of soreness to participate in as much of spring drills as he could. It’s why the coaches gave him the Team First Award at the end of the spring.
But that perseverance probably earned him something more important: Jeff Grimes‘ respect. Grimes repeatedly praised the 6-foot-4, 293-pound Miller for having the tough attitude that he was looking for, something in the offensive line coach’s mind is as often as important as physical skills.
Miller moved around a little. He played some center and guard as Grimes tried to find the right combination of five players on the line. It’s unclear where exactly Miller will end up, but it’s likely the fifth-year, permanent team captain will have a spot somewhere in that starting group. It just depends where the best fit is.
That might be center, where he played last year. That might be right guard, where he worked for the majority of the spring in place of an injured David Wang while Caleb Farris got the majority of first-team reps at center.
It’s tough to remember now, but Miller was in Mel Kiper Jr.‘s list of top-five junior centers heading into last year. If he can get back physically to that level, he seems to have the right kind of tough, physical mindset to fit in exactly with Grimes wants with his offensive line.
For a group with a lot of question marks, he could be one of the surest answers.
Coming Saturday: You’re probably sick of hearing about this phrase.