‘The kind of person Maikhail was’

In this file photo, IAHS quarterback Maikhail Miller gets set to throw a long pass. Miller, who was killed in a car accident this weekend, will be remembered as an exceptional athlete and big-hearted person. (Photo courtesy of Petre Thomas)

In this file photo, IAHS quarterback Maikhail Miller gets set to throw a long pass. Miller, who was killed in a car accident this weekend, will be remembered as an exceptional athlete and big-hearted person. (Photo courtesy of Petre Thomas)

* Miller was an exceptional athlete and friend

Maikhail Miller was an exceptional athlete since he was old enough to be involved in sports.

A standout football, baseball and basketball player, Miller, who died, Saturday, following a car wreck, dominated everything he took his hand to and exemplified all the traits of an athlete with a limitless career.

During his time at Itawamba Agricultural High school, Miller was ranked the top quarterback, and 14th overall recruit in the state of Mississippi, and ranked the No. 45 quarterback in the nation by Scout.com in the 2011 class. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions as a junior, while rushing for more than 500 yards on 40 attempts and adding 10 touchdowns on the ground as a junior.

During his senior season, he was relied on heavily in the running game as his passing numbers decreased a bit (1,636 yards, 14 touchdowns), but his rushing numbers skyrocketed (1,148 yards, 22 touchdowns).

Following his senior season at IAHS, Miller was named 2nd Team All-State by the Clarion Ledger, All-Area by the Daily Journal and received invitations to play in both the 2010 Bernard Blackwell Mississippi North/South Classic and the inaugural 2010 NUC All-World Gridiron Classic in Charleston, South Carolina, a game which also featured former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

Miller was recruited by several quality schools, but eventually chose to ink with Houston Nutt and the Ole Miss Rebels in February of 2011.

After redshirting a season and seeing a coaching change with Hugh Freeze stepping in as head man, Miller played sparingly for one season in Oxford before transferring to Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky for the 2013 season.

Miller battled former high school rival Parks Frazier of Corinth for the quarterback job in fall camp and won out.

Miller was featured on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, when he checked in at No. 8 after catching a throwback pass, then eluding two tacklers before scoring a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers.

He was named the Ohio Valley Conference’s Newcomer of the Week five times during the season and was named to the 2013 OVC All-Newcomer team after completing 219-of-327 passes for 2,331 yards and 18 touchdowns, and also rushing for 429 yards and five touchdowns.

Miller left Murray State in April 2014, citing personal reasons.

Miller had a brief stint with the University of Arkansas-Monticello in the fall of 2015 before re-enrolling at Ole Miss as a traditional student.

But Miller was known as more than just a standout athlete. His peers called him a generous, soft-spoken, easy-going person with a care-free spirit.

“He was always happy,” said former IAHS teammate and close friend Dillon Mitchell, who now coaches football at Pearl High School. “He was just always smiling and he would put you in a good mood, no matter how you were feeling.”

At 6-foot-3-inches and 235 pounds, Miller was often viewed as the “big teddy bear-type” by his close friends.

Former IAHS baseball teammate Bubba Mendoza joked, “I could talk all kinds of smack during a game and just point at Maikhail. Nobody was going to do anything with Big Mike standing over there,” he said with a laugh. “He was just a gentle guy. He was physically imposing, but he was a softy at heart.”

As well as being a phenomenal athlete and overall good soul, Miller was also a talented musician, playing drums and guitar with his band Levee Break for the past four years, and would collaborate on songwriting efforts with locals Brian Quinn and Caul Coker.

“He was just good at everything he tried,” said high school classmate and band mate Lindsey Shields. “Even more so, he was just a great guy and a joy to be around.”

To add to his quality of being a jack-of-all-trades, Miller also enjoyed minor construction projects around the house.

He would regularly collect scrap lumber and build porches and steps, among other things.

Miller was also well-known for for having a big heart, and was adamant about helping others.

“He died on his way to help someone,” said his mother, Charletta. “He loved his family and friends, and would go out of his way to help anyone. That’s just the kind of person Maikhail was.”

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: @ScotNic24

About Adam Armour

Adam Armour has been writing and taking photographs for "The Itawamba County Times" since 2005. His words and pictures have earned 18 Mississippi Press Association Awards, including several "Best of" category recognitions. He has written and independently published one novel and is currently working on a second.

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