As a former high school quarterback turned tight end, McGee has a connection with Miller, who took the same path to tight end at U.Va. McGee made a vow after seeing the giant image of Miller, who is now in his eighth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I said, 'I'll try my best to at least get close to what he did here,' " said McGee, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound sophomore who graduated from Collegiate School in Richmond. "He had an all right career here."
Miller was more than just "all right," and McGee knows it. He has a long way to go to reach Miller's status, but McGee has made some Miller-esque catches this season in the Cavaliers' first two games.
In three seasons at U.Va. (2-0), Miller had 138 catches, which still ranks third all-time in school history. McGee has just six catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in his career, but two of those receptions brought SportsCenter-level attention.
In U.Va.'s 43-19 win Sept. 1 against Richmond, McGee made a one-handed grab in the second quarter for 17 yards where he laid out and caught the ball with his left hand over his back shoulder. It was impressive, but nothing in terms of importance compared to the one he made last Saturday in U.Va.'s 17-16 win against Penn State.
U.Va., which takes its first road trip of the season Saturday to play Georgia Tech (1-1), trailed Penn State 16-10 with five minutes left when it faced third-and-16 from its own 22-yard line. Quarterback Michael Rocco heaved a pass deep downfield to McGee, who was covered by safeties Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and Jacob Fagnano.
McGee came down with a leaping 44-yard reception to preserve a drive that ended with him making the game-winning 6-yard touchdown catch with 1:28 left.
"Whenever Jake is standing there, I trust him," Rocco said.
"He had two guys hanging off of him, which was even more impressive, but he's a great playmaker. He's kind of proving it right now."
McGee, who is listed behind Paul Freedman, Colter Phillips and Jeremiah Mathis on U.Va.'s depth chart, is only getting a chance at U.Va. because of London's presence. When McGee was a quarterback at Collegiate, he committed in 2009 to Richmond, where London was the coach.
After London got the job at U.Va. in December 2009, McGee contacted London, who offered McGee a U.Va. scholarship. With no other offer from a Football Bowl Subdivision program, McGee jumped at the chance to go to Charlottesville.
"His role will increase, because he has demonstrated performance and production," London said. "That's what we are trying to find. To get a tight end back in this offense, back as a feature or go-to guy, he's demonstrated that in the last two games and he's done it in practice time and time again. So, you'll see more of him for sure."
McGee was familiar with U.Va. growing up. His grandfather, Robert, played baseball at U.Va. and lettered in 1960. As a kid, Jake attended numerous Cavalier baseball and basketball games.
It didn't take long for McGee to get on the same page with Rocco. The two weren't close in high school, but they knew plenty about each other.
In the 2009 Virginia Independent Schools state football championship game, McGee led Collegiate to its second straight title with a 48-28 win against Rocco's Liberty Christian Academy. McGee passed for 251 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 145 yards and three touchdowns, while Rocco had 243 yards passing and three touchdowns to go along with a rushing touchdown.
"I can only say so much (about that game), or the ball might not come my way," said McGee, who was a freshman at Collegiate when quarterback Russell Wilson was a senior at the school, adding he has stayed in touched with Wilson via text messages and Facebook now that Wilson is with the Seattle Seahawks.
McGee has been grooming himself for success at tight end since moving from quarterback just a few days into his U.Va. career. Attempting to live up to the lofty standards of quality U.Va. tight ends established by Miller takes a certain level of self-assurance.
"I wouldn't say I've really been surprised, because I was confident with what I could do," McGee said. "It's just getting the chances to do it. Some of the catches have been a little crazier than I thought they would be. I've been confident in what I can do."