Freshman end Miller has a lot on his plate

Marlon Walls (58) congratulates Corey Miller (80) after he sacked the quarterback during the Orange and White game at UT on Saturday April 17, 2010. The White team won 16-7.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Marlon Walls (58) congratulates Corey Miller (80) after he sacked the quarterback during the Orange and White game at UT on Saturday April 17, 2010. The White team won 16-7.

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Corey Miller never expected it to be easy.

The Tennessee freshman didn't plan on it taking quite so long, though.

There was an anticipated learning curve from one level to the next, and picking up defensive schemes and improving technique doesn't happen overnight. But even before Miller could start adapting mentally to life with the Vols, he had to go through a rapid physical change if he was going to contribute in games like Saturday's at Vanderbilt (TV: CSS, 7:30 p.m.)

So before he could start piling up any sacks, Miller had to stuff them with all the groceries he could find as soon as he arrived on campus.

"It's just that when I came in I was a little slim, about 227 pounds," Miller said Wednesday during his first media session with the program. "I came in and put on 30 pounds. From that point forward, it's all about adapting to these 30 pounds and getting ready to roll.

"I got here and actually I went (wild). You know, I started spending money on every kind of food I could find, because when I'm at home, I can't do that. So here, I'm just going to blow it and get fat - that's my plan."

That's not exactly the blueprint, but Miller also isn't done packing on to his 6-foot-3 frame either as he simultaneously expands his role defensively.

After picking up his first sack in a blowout win for UT (4-6, 1-5 SEC) over Ole Miss last week, Miller vowed to add 15 more pounds before next season when he and fellow freshman Jacques Smith appear set to take over the line. They both continue to be listed behind seniors on either end of the defensive front heading into the trip to face the Commodores (2-8, 1-6 SEC), but with Smith picking up a sack in each of the last two games and Miller finally tallying his first, the talented bookends are at least giving a glimpse of the future.

"It did feel like a long time coming," Miller said. "I'm used to getting sacks, back in high school my senior year I got 18 of them, so I was just like, 'Man, I'm ready to get one.' Then again, I've got to perfect my technique before I'm ready to get a sack.

"I mean, me and Jacques talk about it all the time. I feel like since I got on campus, that's like my brother, man. I love the boy to death, and we're going to do whatever we can to be successful in the future. We know we want to take over the defensive line. Us two for the future, we want it to be our line and do it the way we do things, the way (defensive line coach) Chuck (Smith) wants us to do things and build a bully."

Miller could have been the one getting pushed around without all those early meals and time in the weight room, though all the extra weight admittedly slowed him down early in camp and added on a bit to the adjustment process.

It's certainly not over yet, but with at least one tackle now in seven consecutive games and the first sack in his pocket, Miller appears to be on his way.

"I think Corey has worked and grinded throughout the year," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. "He's played through a little bit of that, learning how to play and learning the difference between being injured and being hurt. Some of those guys are hurting but battling through it, and Corey's one of those guys."

That's obviously not the only lesson Miller has had to learn in his first year with the program, though he anticipated some ups and downs.

But aside from playbooks and tougher competition, there's also literally been a lot on his plate as well.

"At first, I felt a lot slower coming off the ball and I was like, 'Oh man, it's going to be a long one,'" Miller said. "But in due time, you do adjust to it and everything that's around you, so I was kind of excited about it.

"I feel as if it's the first sack, yeah, it feels good, but I've got a long road ahead of me and there's no need to get complacent. Definitely, being a freshman defensive end in the SEC, I expect some hard times to come. It's just all about how I handle my situation and persevere through it."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 37

Weatherman writes:

Hang in there and listen to your coach...you'll do well. GBO!

keepitreal4vols writes:

I noticed your bigger frame Saturday, your hard work is not going unnoticed. You and Jacques have good times ahead.

Huttdawg100 writes:

Defensive line play is the essence of SEC football. With so many teams running the spread attack, defensive ends play a vital role in disrupting offensive rhythm. That's why guys like Dwight Freeney make the big money: if you can get to the QB, you're a game changer. C Miller has an opportunity to be a stand out performer. Chuck Smith will get him there. Looking back, we hadn't had a monster on d line since Leonard Little? I've got to be forgetting someone.

Laydbakvol writes:

Patience. We'll see good things in 2012. In the meantime sit back and enjoy the ride.

nocleats writes:

ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK!! TRAMPLE THE WEAK AND HURDLE THE DEAD!! WIN! NEVER QUIT!

Loud_Proud writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Defensive line play is the essence of SEC football. With so many teams running the spread attack, defensive ends play a vital role in disrupting offensive rhythm. That's why guys like Dwight Freeney make the big money: if you can get to the QB, you're a game changer. C Miller has an opportunity to be a stand out performer. Chuck Smith will get him there. Looking back, we hadn't had a monster on d line since Leonard Little? I've got to be forgetting someone.

John Henderson, Jesse Mahalona (RIP), constantine ritzman. just to name a few. lol :)

FWBVol writes:

in response to Loud_Proud:

John Henderson, Jesse Mahalona (RIP), constantine ritzman. just to name a few. lol :)

Will Overstreet, Shaun Walker, Darwin Walker, Albert Haynesworth...and how quickly people forget Dan Williams, the first round draft pick of the Cardinals this year.

bcm4ut writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Defensive line play is the essence of SEC football. With so many teams running the spread attack, defensive ends play a vital role in disrupting offensive rhythm. That's why guys like Dwight Freeney make the big money: if you can get to the QB, you're a game changer. C Miller has an opportunity to be a stand out performer. Chuck Smith will get him there. Looking back, we hadn't had a monster on d line since Leonard Little? I've got to be forgetting someone.

Jonathan Brown, Darwin Walker, Tony Brown, Bill Duff, John Henderson, Haynesworth, Mahelona. There are really too many to list. L. Little was a monster at end. I wished he would have stayed there. it seemed to me he looked a little lost at linebacker.

KingDanno (Inactive) writes:

Alright, good to see the freshmen stepping up into leadership positions. Now let's get our boy to Krogers! Make sure Bray gets his fill too bubba. Looking forward to seeing you all in the next couple years. Keep up the hard work.

Snapshot writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Defensive line play is the essence of SEC football. With so many teams running the spread attack, defensive ends play a vital role in disrupting offensive rhythm. That's why guys like Dwight Freeney make the big money: if you can get to the QB, you're a game changer. C Miller has an opportunity to be a stand out performer. Chuck Smith will get him there. Looking back, we hadn't had a monster on d line since Leonard Little? I've got to be forgetting someone.

Don't forget Justin Harrell, first rd. pick for the Packers.

VOLinDAWGland writes:

Love his attitude! He and Smith are going to be all timers when they're done here.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to nocleats:

ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK!! TRAMPLE THE WEAK AND HURDLE THE DEAD!! WIN! NEVER QUIT!

George Patton 1943

txvolsfan writes:

Call Cam Newton young fellow, he can buy you a few groceries!!!lol

WhitePineVol77 writes:

in response to Laydbakvol:

Patience. We'll see good things in 2012. In the meantime sit back and enjoy the ride.

2012! How bout this year and next.
Go VOLS!

bnakk#240693 writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Defensive line play is the essence of SEC football. With so many teams running the spread attack, defensive ends play a vital role in disrupting offensive rhythm. That's why guys like Dwight Freeney make the big money: if you can get to the QB, you're a game changer. C Miller has an opportunity to be a stand out performer. Chuck Smith will get him there. Looking back, we hadn't had a monster on d line since Leonard Little? I've got to be forgetting someone.

Heynesworth, Henderson, McDaniel, Walker, Ellis, Overstreet, Moore, Mahelona, etc...

smifrat writes:

What about Paris Haryelson? (spelling?) He was a great end a few years ago.

OTPVol writes:

in response to txvolsfan:

Call Cam Newton young fellow, he can buy you a few groceries!!!lol

Cam can buy him a few restaurants...

Ayres_Hall writes:

Hmmm. I wonder why no one was listed Reggie White, yet.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Corey is one of the defensive players that I was most excited about coming into this year..Malik was the other one, plus the fact that he defected from U$C is utterly hilarious..EO said that he wouldn't get much playing time, and here he is a big part if the improvement on the DL...It looks like we are pretty loaded at the DE position for years to come..Pllus, with Marlon returning at DT next year and Ben returning to DE will make things so much better.

I really enjoy reading the posts about former Vols and the names that people list are truly awesome..We have had some good ones over the years, but my favorite was Haynesworth(in spite of his issues).

vol88 writes:

I've put on 30 since the season started, too.

Okay seriously, I cannot wait until these guys are juniors and seniors.

asleep#212036 writes:

With the new recruits, my cautious optimism for the program is getting less cautious every day. It looks like the offensive and defensive lines are headed up, and quickly. As every SEC fan knows all too well, games in our conference are won in the trenches and right now, we just don't have the right combination of talent and depth to play with the big boys, at least not for 4 quarters. It appears that is about to change. Awesome. Can't wait 'til 2012 - the year I think we can realistically compete for the East once again. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, Dooley and company can even give me an early Christmas present in 2011! Go Vols!!!

VOLliven2it writes:

Miller is looking good along with Smith. They will be a force for years to come. I hope to see a group that has nothing but a nose to sack qbs and can also stop the run. GO VOLS! We have not given up on this year as a possible bowl year and while 2011 will be a challenge, we should see bigger and better things on both sides of the ball and I for one am ecstatic about that! Bring on the Commodores(not the ones with Lionel Richey either)!

iowavol writes:

in response to smifrat:

What about Paris Haryelson? (spelling?) He was a great end a few years ago.

Was great? He's still having a great career in the NFL. I think it is Parys Harralson.

volinlouisiana writes:

in response to Loud_Proud:

John Henderson, Jesse Mahalona (RIP), constantine ritzman. just to name a few. lol :)

Chris Mims was a nice player college and pro. Constantine Ritzman=funny. Wasn't he on American Idol a few years back?

martinvol34 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Will Overstreet, Shaun Walker, Darwin Walker, Albert Haynesworth...and how quickly people forget Dan Williams, the first round draft pick of the Cardinals this year.

And Dan Williams is doing very well. Did anyone see Ramon Foster shining this weekend. He played really well.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

This team is kind of like the Tennesseans at the Alamo, with one exception.....reinforcements are really coming this time.....

iadvol writes:

Chris Mims RIP, Chuck Smith and Dale Carter turned UT's D around in the early 90's! I remember DC cruising around the strip in his Pathfinder asking where the party was at..that was on Friday night a day before the game on Saturday!!

VOLliven2it writes:

Funny seeing all the former player talk on here. This article is about Corey Miller. I do hope he ends up being one on the list for all of us to remember, Smith too for that matter.

allvols4life writes:

in response to hcjournals#206623:

This team is kind of like the Tennesseans at the Alamo, with one exception.....reinforcements are really coming this time.....

I like the comment...hopefully you are right. I think you are, but we will have to wait and see. As most have said, I am excited about the direction of the program with all the young talent and the recruits coming in filling needs and looking like a solid class.

Juzkruzin writes:

in response to vol88:

I've put on 30 since the season started, too.

Okay seriously, I cannot wait until these guys are juniors and seniors.

I have put on over 30lbs since the season started, because of medication I have to take. It has leveled off now but it gave me a bad case of furniture disease my chest fell into my drawers. All they have to do is hit the weight room for pounds and the track for stamia. A lot of players don't believe in running, but that is where you get the 4th quarter, 2nd wind. Show me a team who runs a lot on their own and I show you a team that doesn't have their hands on their knees gasping for air in the late 3rd and 4th quarter. Look at the teams from the Service academies and see if they are all bent over trying to breathe. Along with the football practice they also have to do PT with their class everyday. Remember Air Force a couple years ago? They ran in the 4th quarter like the start of the game, especially on their last drive that they scored on. We were lucky they went for the two point conversion, because had they tied it with a kicked extra point they would have won in OT as our players had sucked all the gas out of their tanks.

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

Will Ben Martin have any eligibilty left after this year?

Ayres_Hall writes:

in response to Tau_of_Tennessee:

Will Ben Martin have any eligibilty left after this year?

Martin is taking a medical red-shirt so he has one year remaining and I hope he has developed a very bad mean streak during his rehabilitation.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Hmmm. I wonder why no one was listed Reggie White, yet.

You just did.

Docrok writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Defensive line play is the essence of SEC football. With so many teams running the spread attack, defensive ends play a vital role in disrupting offensive rhythm. That's why guys like Dwight Freeney make the big money: if you can get to the QB, you're a game changer. C Miller has an opportunity to be a stand out performer. Chuck Smith will get him there. Looking back, we hadn't had a monster on d line since Leonard Little? I've got to be forgetting someone.

I think you may be forgetting about Robert Ayers! He was pretty fierce just didnt have the overall help Little had.

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Martin is taking a medical red-shirt so he has one year remaining and I hope he has developed a very bad mean streak during his rehabilitation.

Thanks for info Ayres Hall.

On another note to some of the other linemen mentioned, I think the article centers around D Ends and not so much about D Tackles. That is why Reggie et. al. are not mentioned earlier.

taylorsvolfan writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

I noticed your bigger frame Saturday, your hard work is not going unnoticed. You and Jacques have good times ahead.

Got to stay out of trouble and that means staying out of bars !

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to volballrocks:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Never a better example of preparation and determination creating an opportunity than when Ratliff knocked the Hog into Stoener (sp.?), creating a fumble when all appeared lost. Some said it was luck. I stayed in the rain to witness one of the greatest moments in VOL football history. Championships are won, not given, and Billy took it.

Coach D and the program he is building will bring us back from the fiascoes of the last few years.

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