It’s rather fitting that incoming NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision member Old Dominion was the first FBS school to offer a scholarship to Chris Miller.
The Orlando First Academy offensive lineman is also new to football. While ODU resurrected its football program in 2009 after a 68-year hiatus, Miller himself began his football career just two seasons ago.
Now, after Georgia State came calling on Wednesday, he has two scholarship offers from transitioning FBS programs.
“I was really excited,” Miller said about the news. “Because it just goes to show that all the work I put into it is paying off and I haven’t been playing football for that long. I’m just real excited.”
Georgia State, like ODU, is also an FBS newcomer. Old Dominion will begin play in Conference USA in 2014, while Georgia State begins its foray into the Sun Belt Conference at the same time.
GSU already has 2013 FBS games scheduled against West Virginia, Alabama, Troy, Texas State, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama. The Panthers are playing home games at the Georgia Dome.
ODU faces FBS schools East Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Charlotte and North Carolina in its final transition season.
Miller, a 6-foot-4, 293-pound has made huge strides since dumping basketball, which he played as a freshman, for the sport that will likely pay for his college education.
“I’ve had a lot of good coaches help me out and made it a lot easier for me,” Miller said. “When I was a freshman, I told [TFA head football coach Leroy Kinard] that I wanted to play basketball and he said, ‘You’re a football player.’
“I finally started to realize that, with my size, basketball probably wasn’t going to happen for me.”
Football is certainly happening for him.
He’s become a big part of an offensive line that paved the way to the Royals best season in school history last year, when they went 12-1 and fell one game shy of playing for the state title.
“This past season I finally realized that, with my size, I’m going to have an opportunity. People kept telling me that I could [get a college scholarship in football], so I took it to heart and started working for it.”
Also on the TFA offensive front with Miller is 6-foot-3, 297-pound center/guard Josh Peters, an all-stater last season whom many figured woulod likely have offers before Miller.
“It’s kinda hard,” Miller said of seeing Peters with no offers so far, “but I know it’s going to come for him. He is such a good player and he’s helped me a lot. I’ve watched him a lot and tried to do some of the things he does.
“I know they’ll start coming for him soon.”
Miller also has a Football Championship Subdivision scholarship offer from Florida A&M.
He said he wasn’t sure how to react when he got his ODU offer from Monarchs defensive line coach Jeff Commisiong.
“I was really kind of speechless to be honest,” Miller said. “It surprised me. Just having a D1 offer in the spring … I didn’t expect that, honestly.
“It feels good but I know that I need to keep up with what I’m doing. … I still have next season to worry about.”
He has several summer trips planned for camps at FIU, FAU, UCF, Georgia State, Kentucky, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt.
Miller, who carries a 3.99 unweighted and a 4.6 weighted GPA and scored 1120 on the SAT and a 25 on the ACT, said he’s intrigued by the possibility that he could help get programs started at schools like ODU and GSU.
“It’s not necessarily all about the playing time,” Miller said. “I could be part of it and possibly leave a legacy at those schools and be part of doing something first there, and I also know they are both academically solid, so it will help me either way.”
He’s always looking for ways to improve, which explains why he’s going to be taking the SAT and ACT again.
“I like to apply myself and if I know I can do better then I will try to do the best I can,” Miller said.
That thinking has helped him on the football field.
“I want to learn the game and be able to be as good as everyone tells me I can be.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun