BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- One of the higher compliments you can pay Josh Miller is to tell him he doesn't look like a punter.
When he is performing his special teams duty for the Baltimore Stallions, no one does it better in the Canadian Football League than Miller, who leads the league with a 47.2-yard punting average. But, at 6 feet 3, 210 pounds, and sporting the bulk that is evidence of a dedicated off-season workout regimen, Miller is just as satisfied with his new physique, and how it departs from the slighter build of the typical punter.
Leave the muscles to the position players? Not a chance with Miller.
"When I showed up at camp this year, everybody was making steroids jokes. I still hear it every now and then," Miller said. "God forbid a punter should be in shape."
The way Miller sees it, he had to return to the Stallions in better shape, which tells you something about his motivation. After Baltimore signed him in June 1994, all Miller did was become an All-CFL punter by leading the league in average (42.9) and net average (36.9) while helping Baltimore reach the Grey Cup in its inaugural season.
However, something about what Miller saw in the mirror -- and on game tape -- disturbed him.
"I was built like a pear. I don't know how I made All-CFL, since I looked and felt like [dirt] in my uniform," said Miller, 25. "I thought, what would happen if I worked really hard? Now, I see what happens. I look more like a human being who should be playing football."
Said Stallions coach Don Matthews, "Josh left us last year as a punter, and he came back as an athlete."
Two days after the 1994 season ended, Miller returned to his home in Arizona and began changing some habits. He lifted weights every day for two hours, jogged three miles every other day and cut back on his red meat consumption, all while practicing punts and kickoffs daily.
Miller said he played at 230 pounds in the Grey Cup game, yet quickly cut his weight to 198. That helped open a few doors in the modeling world, which Miller dabbled in with a clothes manufacturer.
Modeling agencies in Arizona and California expressed interest in him. He considered taking a shot at acting. But the football bug persisted.
Miller decided he had to give the game another look, with his new look. His attitude differed drastically from 1994, when Baltimore brought him to training camp, and Miller figured his stay would be short.
"Last year, they asked me if I was in shape to kick, and I figured that was like saying are you in shape to play golf. I brought three shirts, two pairs of shorts and my golf clubs [to camp], thinking I was here to push somebody else," Miller said. "This year, I came back expecting to see three other punters in camp, since I'm my hardest critic."
Miller reported to camp with the rookies, and saw no other punter around. And it didn't take him long to show the Stallions' coaching staff they had made the right call.
With a stronger left leg, Miller began showing impressive hang time.
"He's setting a higher standard for himself," said special teams coach Daryl Edralin.
NOTES: Linebacker Alvin Walton and defensive back Corris Ervin were activated off the practice roster. Defensive end Greg Tucker and rush end Malcolm Goodwin were placed on the practice roster.
Stallions vs. Birmingham
Site: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.
When: 8 tonight
?3 TV/Radio: ESPN2/WJFK (1300 AM), WGRX (100.7 FM)