Josh Miller looks back at his Clemson career

Team barber’ ends stint at Clemson

Manning standout Miller saw limited playing time as a Tiger

Item file photo
Former Manning High School standout Josh Miller will end his career as a Tiger when Clemson plays Nebraska in the New Year’s Day Gator Bowl.

Special To The Item 

CLEMSON – Josh Miller was supposed to turn heads at Clemson, not cut hair.

But that’s not the way the former Manning High School star’s college football career has played out. Heralded as one of the state’s top recruits four years ago, Miller has seen far more action as the “team barber” than he has at linebacker for the Tigers.

Still, he’s been able to cut through the disappointments and enjoy his Tiger career, which will come to an end with Clemson’s New Year’s Day Gator Bowl date against Nebraska.

Described by coaches and fellow players as the ultimate “team player”, Miller accepted his limited playing role and excelled on special teams. He also worked hard at his studies and earned respect from his teammates – in addition to giving many of them cheap haircuts.

“I’m not a selfish person,” Miller said with a smile this past week. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else. I had a blast. I didn’t play as much as I thought I would, but I still enjoyed my time here getting to know the coaches and players.

“This year, with the coaching change and all, I’ll never forget that.”

Miller should leave Clemson with a degree in sport management (he needs only nine hours next semester) and a bright future in coaching. Maybe, he hopes, he will have a shot to play professional football.

Ranked the No. 3 prospect in South Carolina by in 2004, the 6-foot, 230-pound Miller never found a niche on the football field at Clemson.

A standout power running back in high school, his style didn’t fit in with the Tigers’ spread attack, so he was moved to middle linebacker. But as former Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said, Miller didn’t have the burning killer instinct needed to excel at that position.

“To play linebacker in a major conference, it just takes a certain mindset,” said Robbie Briggs, Miller’s coach at Manning High. “You could say Josh just doesn’t have a dark side.”

“My mindset was mainly as a running back,” Miller agreed.

Moving to linebacker wasn’t the only personal sacrifice Miller made to help the Tigers. Because injuries depleted the Tiger linebacker corps during his freshman and sophomore seasons, he never got a redshirt year to help with his development.

Miller didn’t start a single game. He rarely got to play other than covering on special teams.

As a senior, he sat behind two freshmen at middle linebacker.

Yet, he stayed upbeat. He never complained to coaches or teammates. He excelled on special teams. As a sophomore, he considered transferring, but kept that private.

“He’s just a positive person,” said starting safety Michael Hamlin, one of Miller’s roommates the last three years. “He’s got a good heart. He’s competitive, but at the same time, he’s a team player. He wants what’s best for the team.”

Miller said a lack of flexibility in his hips was a weakness that prevented him from accelerating through tackles.

“I know this is business,” said Miller. “If there are players out there better than you, coaches are going to put the best man on the field.”

Miller will be remembered as the Tigers’ team barber. The apartment he shares with Hamlin and cornerback Haydrian Lewis is known as “the barber shop.”

“Our place is the meeting place,” Lewis said. “People are always coming over to get their hair cut and hang out.”

“He’s a great guy,” Hamlin said. “I know a lot of people look up to him.” Briggs, whom Miller confided in when he was considering transferring, perhaps to Appalachian State, credits Miller’s ability to see the “big picture” in life with helping him handle the disappointments at Clemson.

With the emergence of freshmen Brandon Maye and Stanley Hunter, Miller played only three snaps at linebacker in the Tigers’ last seven games.

But Miller made the most of his stint on special teams – he played guard on the punt coverage team and served as a backup “wedge breaker” on kickoffs. He had five of his 15 tackles this season on special teams.

“When he gets on the field, he always does something productive,” Hamlin said.

Despite his limited playing time at Clemson, Miller plans to work out for NFL scouts at the Tigers’ Pro Day in March.

Miller said he would continue to train hard after the Gator Bowl and sell himself as an “athlete” to pro scouts. With enough speed to play outside linebacker in the NFL, he hopes to get down to 220 pounds.

“I just don’t want it to end,” he said. “It seems like four years went by so fast. I just want to see what’s out there,” he explained. “If I can get on somebody’s team as a free agent or make somebody’s practice squad. …”

“He has all the tools to be a big-time player,” Briggs said.

If Miller can’t find a place to play, he may seek a graduate assistant coaching job somewhere. Soon, he expects to talk to Manning High administrators about requirements to teach and coach there. His brother, Brandon, a star quarterback for the Monarchs, will be a senior next season.

And for one final semester, he’ll also have his first opportunity to enjoy college life without the day-to-day grind of football.

Despite the disappointments, Miller said he’s not anxious to put Clemson behind him.

He’s learned a lot of life lessons sitting on the bench. He’s had a lot of fun, too, often hanging out with teammates at his barber shop.

“It’s kind of sad,” he said. “I didn’t want it to end this early. It seems like four years went by so fast.”


2 Responses to “Josh Miller looks back at his Clemson career”

  1. warpedmind24x7 Says:

    Josh is making the most out of his situation. He is a team player instead of a me player. A lot of kids could learn from him.

  2. Yeah there were a lot of High expectations on ole JM coming out of HS.. he never became that bad ass LB we all wished!

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