Insights and Observations
Monday, June 6, 2005
By Henry Hinton
Miller knocking hard on the
|Kevin Miller (right), whose
leg made him East Carolina's all-time leading career scorer,
is putting his considerable place-kicking talents to use
these days for NFL- Europe's Berlin team, which will compete
Saturday in Yello Strom World Bowl XIII.
Photo Credits: Berlin
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They say patience is a
virtue. If true, then former East Carolina kicker Kevin Miller is a most
As his NFL Europe team,
the Berlin Thunder, heads to the World Bowl, it appears Miller’s patience
has finally paid off.
Miller, who finished his
career at East Carolina in 2002 as the school’s all time leading scorer, has
hoped for a shot at the NFL since graduation. After many near misses, he
finally landed a spot on an NFL roster in February, just in time to be
allocated to a team in Europe.
The Seattle Seahawks
signed Miller and sent him to the developmental league overseas at the
behest of his former college coach, Steve Logan, who is in his second season
on the coaching staff of the Thunder.
It appears Miller has
made the most of his opportunity, converting 17 of 21 field goal attempts
during the regular season, an 81 percent conversion rate that is the best in
As with most players who
get the chance to play in NFL Europe, Miller has enjoyed the unique
opportunity to play at the next level in a foreign country.
“Berlin has been fun,”
Miller said this week by e-mail. “It is a big city and there is a lot to do.
Once I figured out the train system and found my way around, I really
enjoyed going all over the city.”
Miller’s team is the
first franchise to win back-to-back regular season titles in NFL Europe. The
Thunder now has a chance to defend its World Bowl title from last year.
Berlin (7-3) finished the
regular season yesterday with a 17-13 loss to Cologne in a game in which
many starters played sparingly. The team will play Amsterdam this coming
Saturday in the World Bowl.
“This is definitely the
next level,” Miller says. “Many of these guys were drafted and are on (NFL)
teams. Most of them were the best at their college and all expect to be pros
for a long time. It is very professional and teams don’t seem to have many
Miller has enjoyed
reconnecting with Logan — his former East Carolina coach — who has helped
the rookie learn the ropes of the European league.
“It has been great being
with Coach Logan,” Miller said. “He has been really helpful in so many ways
and he really cares about the players and their futures. He has quickly
become one of the favorites here for many reasons, and for me it has been
nice to see him in a more relaxed atmosphere.
"He is a guy that gains
more and more respect from me every day that I am involved with him. The
quarterbacks have raved about him here.”
Logan’s starting QB, Dave
Ragone, was already familiar to the former Pirate coach. Ragone, who played
against the Pirates during his days at Louisville, has been dominant as the
best quarterback in NFL Europe this season. He played just three series in
the Cologne loss in preparation for the World Bowl.
This is the second
straight season the Thunder’s quarterback has led the league. Logan tutored
New England Patriot prospect Rohan Davey, who emerged as the league’s best
quarterback last season at Berlin.
Another former Pirate has
joined Miller and Logan in Berlin this season. Sean Rose, who also left ECU
in 2002, has been a starter on the Thunder’s offensive line.
As for Miller, who kicked
his season long 48-yarder on Sunday, the NFL Europe experience has renewed
his hopes of playing on Sundays this fall.
Since leaving ECU he has
kept his dream alive while continuing to live in Greenville, putting his
communications degree to work on a part-time basis for Talk 1070 and Cable
7. He has also caddied on the PGA tour for close friend Cameron Yancey.
Miller, who may still
have a golf career of his own if football does not work out, also qualified
and played in the US Amateur last fall.
Just before getting
signed by Seattle and being allocated to NFL Europe, Miller had planned to
go back on the PGA Tour this season to caddy for Greenville golf buddy Will
McKenzie credits Miller
with helping him get through qualifying school in February. But the lure of
kicking professionally was too great and Miller took the deal with the
Seahawks and headed across the big pond.
“I think this season has
done a lot for me’, says Miller. “I am in the game now so to speak. Seattle
is a long shot for me (this fall), but everyone else will see this film and
I have proved I can kick at this level. I am mostly excited about the
improvement on my kickoffs. That will be the biggest reason that I may get a
shot from someone.”
The World Bowl will
provide Miller with the biggest stage of his career this Saturday. He is
hoping it will be the chance to turn the heads of some other NFL scouts
whose teams are in need of a productive kicking specialist.
“This has been a
wonderful experience and has done a lot for my confidence”, said Miller. “I
am excited about the possibilities in training camp this fall.”
Berlin will face the
Amsterdam Admirals in the World Bowl this Saturday at noon. The game will be
televised live in the United States by the Fox Network.
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