Wide receiver has not been a focal point of the Arkansas offense over the past several years and with running backs like two-time Doak Walker Award winner Darren McFadden and All-American Felix Jones, one could see why.
But if you take a look at the Razorback roster, a couple of receivers have been there, including Huntington, Ark., native Lucas Miller.
A starter for most of the season, Miller has been a constant on the field for the Razorbacks and his sure hands are something Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino covet in their offense. At 6-3, 200 pounds, Miller is a good sized target for Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick and playing in the slot gives the Greenwood High School alum several opportunities each game, but Miller understands his role and what he is asked to do.
“I’m a third down, possession type guy,” Miller said.
Miller’s role in any offense is often overlooked by fans as they focus on the flashy, big play receivers like Terrell Owens of the Dallas Cowboys or Chad Ocho Sinco’ Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals, but it is players like Miller and New England’s Wes Welker that continue to move the chains and gain first downs, which is exactly what Arkansas needs.
One of Miller’s other roles with the Razorbacks extends beyond the four-inch white boundary line of the gridiron, even outside the friendly confines of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“I’m an encourager,” Miller said. “I like to be out here and help the young guys because I’ve been here longer than they have.”
Miller’s role as a mentor is one he takes very seriously and also one that is even more important in 2008 as the Razorbacks brought in a swarm of new receivers, including Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Chris Gragg. Going from high school to Division I college athletics can be a scary and intimidating process, and Miller has tried to take the new players under his wing and assist them when they need it.
“When you’re young and make a bad play, you get your head down,” Miller said. “In my experience, that never helps. If someone makes a bad play, I’m there to say Hey, don’t worry. Make the next play. It’s over. You can’t dwell on it.’ Advice from the older players has really helped me in the past, so I try to pass that on to the younger players.”
Miller’s desire to play wide receiver and at the highest levels was fueled early on when he spent his falls watching the National Football League and top notch players like Randy Moss and Roy Williams.
“I love Randy Moss,” Miller added. “He goes out every week and makes ridiculous plays. Both he and Roy Williams are taller guys that are freak athletes. I love watching them play.”
Miller earned his starting role this season and was on pace for a breakout year through the first three games before suffering a concussion that sidelined him for the Texas contest. In the 2008 season-opener against Western Illinois, Miller made a career high three catches that totaled 67 yards, another career best. He was arguably Arkansas’ best receiver in the final drives of Arkansas’ come-from-behind win as two of his three catches came under the pressure of the Razorback rally and he accounted for two first downs.
Through the first three games of this season, Miller had six receptions, nearly half his two-year career total (13), and his role in the offense was becoming even more prominent before he was injured during the Alabama game and forced to miss the trip to Austin. Upon his return to the field, Miller played but did not make a reception in the Florida, Auburn or Kentucky games, but the third-year player was back on the stat sheet against Ole Miss last weekend.
Just two catches for Miller against the Rebels, but both were big as he accounted for a first down and a touchdown to give the Razorbacks a chance to come from behind and defeat Ole Miss. His touchdown grab was his first of the season and fourth of his career.
Not just a great player and starter for the Razorbacks, Miller also gets his job done in the classroom. He has been recognized on the Lon Farrell Academic Honor Roll multiple times during his time at Arkansas and is majoring in communications. He is hoping to pursue a career in marketing or sales upon his graduation, but the outside world will have to wait for the Huntington native as his role with the Razorbacks is far from done.