The first time Keller coach Carl Stralow heard of defensive end/outside linebacker Houston Miller, the coach said the experience reminded him of a job interview.
Miller, then in middle school, already knew everything about his future coach.
“His motor is always running, there’s obviously a place in football for a guy like that,” Stralow said. “He’s the guy that loves games, practices and off-season. It’s kind of scary when a guy likes the off-season, too.”
Makes sense then, after a season in which he recorded 119 tackles (16 for loss), nine sacks and forced four fumbles, that Miller not only stood out among teammates, his effort has earned him the Star-Telegram Super Team Defensive Player of the Year.
Houston Miller tally: 119 tackles (16 for loss), nine sacks, four forced fumbles.
All selections are based on regular-season performances, in consultation with area coaches.
Miller (6-foot-3, 237) said he will sign a national letter of intent with Texas Tech in February, sealing a goal that has been in the making for some time.
“My life is football,” he said. “I knew before my eighth-grade year that I wanted to play football for as long as I could and I thought knowing the coach was an important piece of that.
“I’ve already been writing messages to our defensive coordinator at Tech to find out who he’ll bring on as the defensive line coach. I’m ready to start researching him and his style and what I can expect.”
My life is football. I knew before my eighth-grade year that I wanted to play football for as long as I could ...
What offenses didn’t expect this past season was the relentless assault that Miller applied.
Numerous times, he was forced to fight off double-team blocks. When his team, which finished 6-4 this season was handed a bit of adversity with losses at key defensive positions, Miller was forced to play some at inside linebacker.
“It’s not that he can’t do it, because he can definitely drop back into pass coverage,” Stralow said. “But we needed him on the rush. I needed him to chase things and that’s what he’s best at.”
Evolving into the position is what Miller set out to do from the very beginning.
There are already enough people running and catching the ball. The ones that like to chase are hard to come by.
Keller coach Carl Stralow
“I was on varsity as a sophomore and spent the first two seasons learning from some great players here,” Miller said. “For me it was focusing on the little things because they can turn into big things. Whether it was hand drills or working on my start off the line, or playing better in space, I wanted to get better at any detail.
“This season I wanted to get better with my hips and play a bit looser. That also helped when I had to play linebacker some, but I know I have to get better at using my hips at the next level.”
Miller’s size and explosiveness haven’t been lost on the recruiting trail, and Stralow said he has the opportunity to be very good.
“There are already enough people running and catching the ball,” he said. “The ones that like to chase are hard to come by. Houston has always led by effort and picks and chooses the right time to talk with the group when they need to hear it from a peer instead of a coach.”