Wesley’s Miller has grown into a starter

Cape Henlopen High grad Devin Miller (70) is slated to start at offensive tackle for Wesley this fall.
(Wesley College sports information photo)

DOVER — If there was a moment when Devin Miller questioned himself three years ago, it was when he was running ‘horns.’

The freshman was a second-team All-State center at Cape Henlopen High.

But conditioning drills, like running horns in his first season on the Wesley College football team, opened up a whole new world for the youngster.

In the drill, players sprint across the field, up to the 40, back across the field and then back to the goal line.

And then they do it again and again.

“Those are no joke,” Miller said with a smile. “College definitely tests your love of the game. But it’s shown me that I really do love it and wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.”

And now that he’s a junior for the Wolverines, Miller can see that the drudgery of those workouts is finally paying off.

After seeing only limited action in his first two seasons, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound junior is slated to start at one of the tackle spots when the Wolverines open the season on Aug. 31 at Delaware Valley.

Coach Mike Drass said it’s always rewarding to see a player like Miller work himself into a starting position.

“He’s always been a good football player and a good student,” said Drass. “He’s real coachable. As a coach, he’s a kid you’re pulling for. I mean, you’re always going to put the 11 best guys on the field.

“But, when he’s taken strides to earn a starting position, it makes you feel good. He’s the type of kid that you want on your team. He’s the type of kid who’s worked to earn everything.”

Probably Miller’s biggest issue was developing a little more size and strength.

His current weight of 250 pounds is about 20 pounds more than his freshman-year weight. While he’s still relatively light for a tackle, Drass said Miller has definitely gotten stronger.

Miller spent more time in Dover this summer working out with his teammates.

“Everyone’s physical but do you play with strength?” said Drass. “I’d say the level of strength he’s playing with now is what is needed by a starter up front.”

“I knew I had to push myself even harder to fill those shoes,” said Miller. “I know that I can’t let up because it’s a privilege to be where I’m at. You’ve always got to give it as much as you can — and then some.”

Right now, Wesley’s offensive line is a work in progress.

The Wolverines have a preseason All-American in senior tackle Matt Gono, senior Blake Roberts moves from guard to center and junior Mujahid Manuel is a returning starter at guard.

Sophomore guard Josh Hughes and Miller, though, are relatively inexperienced.

Smyrna High grad Terren Carter, who would have been a sophomore at Wesley, transferred to Division II West Virginia Wesleyan to play with his brother, Jerren.

Freshmen Greg Clark (Milford) and Darin Matthews (Howard) along with sophomore Jay Johnson are among the group of other linemen pushing for playing time.

“We need those guys to step up,” Drass said about the offensive line as a whole. “You always hear that ‘chemistry’ word. Obviously that’s the one position on the field where, within the group, everyone has to know what each other’s doing.”

“I think we have a lot of talent up front — and so much potential,” said Miller. “Our coaches tell us all the time, ‘It starts up front, it starts with us.’ If we can’t get done what we need to do, nothing else works.

“We just get our reps and keep working. I know by that first game, we’re going to be ready to go.”

Extra points

Wesley is scheduled to host Milford Academy (N.Y.) in a scrimmage on Thursday at about 2:45 p.m. … Former Caesar Rodney High standout running back Najee Whitted has transferred to Wesley. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound freshman was originally headed to Division II Shepherd University.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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