College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, April 28, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Miller keeping magic toe
primed for NFL opening
Kevin Miller said he watched some of the first three rounds
of the NFL draft as a fan on Saturday. That was after playing three rounds —
of golf — in the Conference USA Tournament earlier in the week.
Miller had a little more personal interest for the last four
rounds of the NFL draft on Sunday. A kicker who became ECU’s career scoring
leader as a senior, he thought he might have a chance at being chosen in the
While Mars Hill, Grand Valley State and Gustavus Adolphus
had players taken, the Pirates were shut out for the third time in four
years. A number of ECU players should be signing free agent contracts over
the next several days, a route to the NFL that worked for defensive lineman
Devone Claybrooks, who finished playing for the Pirates in 2000.
Claybrooks earned a Super Bowl championship ring this past
season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Miller, who finished with 287 points as a Pirate, came to
ECU on a golf scholarship. He returned to the links for the Pirates this
spring, shooting 78, 75, 73 in the Conference USA Tournament last week.
Miller, 23, majored in communications and was president of
ECU’s student-athlete advisory council. Though he was born in San Diego, he
eventually signed a grant with the Pirates out of Salem High in Virginia
Miller talked former ECU coach Steve Logan into letting him
come out for kicker on the football team as a freshman in 1998. As a
redshirt freshman in 1999, he hit 11 of 15 field goals but missed four games
with a pulled muscle. He was C-USA player of the week after hitting 3-of-3
field goal attempts against West Virginia in a 30-23 win in Charlotte.
He won the league’s weekly honor again that year after
making a 52-yard field goal and a 48-yarder at Army — a 33-14 win that
improved the Pirates to 5-0 that season.
As a sophomore in 2000, Miller punted and placekicked. He
averaged 40.4 yards per punt. In ECU’s 40-27 win over Texas Tech in the
Gallery Furniture Bowl in Houston, Miller kicked three field goals. In 2001,
Miller didn’t miss on any of his 13 field goal attempts from 41 yards or
“Playing football at East Carolina definitely helped me
mature,” Miller said. “There were a lot of highs and a couple of lows. I
dealt with the highs and lows and the reason I don’t worry about making it
in the NFL is that I met so many great people in the area. I feel like I can
get a job and stay in this area.”
Miller is represented by Fayetteville-based sports agent
Ralph Vitolo, who also represents Claybrooks. Vitolo lined up workouts for
Miller prior to the draft with the Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts and
New York Giants.
“I saw him kick and he performed well,” said Giants scout
Steve Verdarosa. “He showed accuracy and leg strength, which had been an
issue with him. One question with kickers is depth and height on kickoffs.
"Some guys can line drive it deep but that doesn’t allow the
coverage team to get downfield and stop the return. Guys who just kick it
high but not deep surrender field position.
“Kevin seemed to be able to kick under adverse conditions.
The thing about kickers is that teams seldom spend a draft choice on them.
It’s the lowest-paid position on the team and there’s only one of them. It’s
not like drafting a receiver or offensive lineman that could play several
spots. Kickers almost have to be cut before their careers take hold. It’s
almost like a rite of passage.”
Miller worked out for Mark Michaels, assistant special teams
coach for the Seahawks, and thought his best shot at being drafted was with
Seattle, which didn’t have a kicker on its roster. Seattle took a kicker in
the seventh and final round but it was Josh Brown of Nebraska.
“I knew my hopes of getting drafted were kind of shot then,”
Miller is hoping Vitolo can get him signed as a free agent.
“In a best case scenario you get into camp and compete for
the job with another kicker,” Miller said. “There’s also some value into
getting into a camp with a veteran guy. You can learn under him and, in
effect, audition for 31 other teams. ... You look at Jeff Reid from (North)
Carolina. He got the right opportunity with Pittsburgh the last half of the
season last year and had a great end of the season.
“We’ll just have to look at teams that would be a good fit.
All I can control is working out and staying in shape. I’ll just let Ralph
do his job. A kicker has to be patient. It can take two or three years to
make it and I don’t know how long I’m going to give it.”
Andrew Bayes, who led the nation in punting average in 1999,
pursued an NFL career for several years. Bayes, incidently, will marry
Allison Barrow at the First Presbyterian Church in Dunn on May 3, a ceremony
that Miller and a number of Bayes’ former teammates plan to attend.
Miller hit 17 of 22 field goals last season and 34 of 36
Miller put his golf career on hold while kicking at ECU. His
score in the C-USA golf tournament counted in ECU’s team total the last two
days, on Tuesday and Wednesday at Lake Jovita, a resort community about 45
minutes north of Tampa, Fla.
“It was a nice week of playing team golf,” Miller said.
“After shooting 78 the first day, I wasn’t too worried about the individual
competition. It felt good to contribute to the team score the last two
Cameron Broadwell and Chris Baglio are competing to take
over the kicking duties Miller has performed for most of the last four
“I think people are going to have to be patient with those
guys,” Miller said. “It’s sort of like when Paul Troth stepped into David
Garrard’s shoes. Some people weren’t as patient as maybe they should have
"Spring was important for them to adjust to a new holder.
That’s something I had to do. I think I had a new holder each year at ECU.
“There was always a period of adjustment and I was always a
little concerned coming out of spring ball. But there was always a lot of
time to learn to work together in preseason practice.”
Miller said he was home most of the day on Saturday —
watching the draft and occasionally switching over to the Houston Open golf
tournament, which was won by Fred Couples. Miller didn’t see his name called
on ESPN but he enjoyed Couples’ first tour win in several years.
“I was rooting for him,” Miller said. “I like to see stories
ECU fans will be rooting for Miller to make it in the NFL.
Pirates fans like to see stories like that, too.
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02/22/2007 11:53:45 PM