Third time’s a charm: Fulton’s Maikhail Miller embracing fresh start at Arkansas-Monticello

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM Former IAHS quarterback Maikhail Miller has racked up a host of awards and honors over his career, which includes stints at Ole Miss, Murray State and, currently, the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS I BUY AT PHOTOS.ITAWAMBATIMES.COM
Former IAHS quarterback Maikhail Miller has racked up a host of awards and honors over his career, which includes stints at Ole Miss, Murray State and, currently, the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

FILE PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS  Miller, center, awaits a playcall during the 2013 Grove Bowl.

FILE PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS
Miller, center, awaits a playcall during the 2013 Grove Bowl.

FILE PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS Miller jokes with teammate Vincent Sanders during a game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

FILE PHOTO BY SCOTTY NICHOLS
Miller jokes with teammate Vincent Sanders during a game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Fulton’s Maikhail Miller is hoping his third try at a college athletic career is the one that sticks.

Without a doubt, Miller has always been an outstanding athlete.

He’s simply a natural, excelling at football, baseball and basketball from childhood all the way through his prep years at Itawamba AHS.

Miller’s God-given ability, combined with his hard-working mentality, garnered him a lot of attention from college coaches — especially in football.

After attending the U.S. Army All-American Combine as a junior and participating in the NUC Gridiron All-World Classic, virtually every community college within a 300-mile radius was drooling for his signature, but they all knew it was a far cry to actually land him.

Miller had drawn attention from several universities, including one very local SEC school that had been after him on the recruiting trail from very early on in the process.

“Ole Miss began contacting me after my sophomore year,” Miller said. “Coach (Houston) Nutt kept in contact with me pretty regularly.

I grew up more of a Mississippi State fan, but Ole Miss definitely won the recruiting war early.”

Miller inked with the Rebels in February of 2011, but the Ole Miss athletic department made the decision to let go of Nutt after a subpar 2-10 season in 2010.

Miller and his family held their breath momentarily, but the Rebels made what seemed to be a favorable hire by bringing in coach Hugh Freeze from Arkansas State.

Freeze had recruited Miller heavily when he was the head man in Jonesboro.

But Ole Miss had just received Bo Wallace, who had redshirted under Freeze at Arkansas State and won NJCAA Player of the Year honors while leading East Mississippi Community College to a state and national championship.

“It seemed like a good situation for me going in,” Miller said. “When Bo transferred, he had a head-start on me because he knew Coach Freeze’s offense so well after redshirting up there.”

Miller stayed and played some spot duty in 2012, as his 6’3”, 235-pound frame and ability to run made him a great candidate for short-yardage and goal line situations.

Miller performed well in the 2013 Grove Bowl, but began to see the writing on the wall. Freeze and his coaching staff had invested too much in Wallace.

“I saw a great opportunity to get some real playing time and compete for the starting job at Murray State so, after talking with the Ole Miss coaching staff, I decided to transfer there,” Miller said.

He immediately made an impact at Murray State, putting up a phenomenal game in the 2013 season opener against eventual SEC East champion Missouri.

Miller totaled 223 yards against the Tigers and accounted for three total touchdowns. He ran for a touchdown, threw for another, and caught a third on a throw-back play.

The latter score was a thing of beauty, as Miller handed the ball to a wide receiver on what seemed to be a reverse run to the right, but Miller sprinted out into the open field to his left and made a nice catch on a pass from his receiver then juked a defender for the five-yard touchdown.

The play was good enough to rank number eight on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top Ten that night.
“That was pretty awesome,” Miller said. “We were actually on the bus on the way back when I first saw it, and I couldn’t believe it. It was really cool.”

Miller posted great numbers for the Racers during the 2013 season, completing 67-percent of his passes for 2,221 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for another 430 yards and five scores.

After the productive season, Miller still decided to leave the Racers’ football program.

“I just kind of fell out of love with football,” Miller said. “I can’t really explain it, but I just wasn’t into the game anymore. It felt like more of a job.”

After a brief stint at ICC as a traditional student and what appeared to retirement from athletics, Miller’s passion has been re-ignited. He recently found an opportunity at the University of Arkansas at Monticello — as a two-sport athlete.

“I’m looking forward to a fresh start,” Miller said. “I’m really excited about it this time around because I have a chance to play baseball, which was my first love.”

Miller posted above a .350 batting average and had a fastball that was clocked in the mid-90s while starring for IAHS baseball coach Brian Long in his prep years.

Miller is currently taking classes and going through summer workouts with UAM’s football program, while returning home on the weekends to spend time with family and friends.

And to play baseball, of course.

“I’m playing semi-pro baseball with Poplar Springs to stay in baseball shape,” he said.

Miller’s younger brothers (twins Vijay and Tray) are currently excelling on the gridiron at IAHS.

Tray is getting collegiate looks as a defensive back/linebacker in football, while Vijay participates in all three major varsity sports.

Vijay is following in his older brother’s footsteps as a game-changing quarterback on the football field and a dominant pitcher on the diamond, where he posted an 8-1 record and an ERA of under 1.30 as a junior.

“As far as recruiting goes, I’m just telling him to go with what he loves, and to go somewhere where he is confident and comfortable,” Miller said.

As his younger siblings approach what promises to be a great year on the gridiron, Miller anxiously awaits the beginning of his new chapter.

“It can’t get here fast enough,” Miller said. “I’m thankful for this opportunity, and I look forward to making the most of it.”

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: @ScotNic24

About Scotty Nichols

Graduate of THE University of Mississippi. #HottyToddy. I like sports. And BBQ.

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