Nine days after the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech played at Clemson, another Jacket came to leave his mark on Death Valley, former North Augusta High School standout Vinny Miller.
Miller, the Aiken Standard Offensive Player of the Year in 2011, is a sophomore running back and kick returner for The Citadel.
Although The Citadel fell to Clemson 52-6, Miller feels his team gave everything it had in the game.
“I feel like we gave it our all,” he said. “There are some things we could have done differently. The guys I was playing beside gave it their all, and I gave it my all for them.”
Miller had two carries for 5 yards for the Bulldogs and returned three kicks for 37 yards. While he didn’t have the impact he was hoping for, Miller was excited to get the chance to play in front of a sellout crowd in Clemson.
“Playing in Clemson was an amazing experience,” he said. “Seeing all those people there cheering reminds me of why I play football, and that’s for the love of the game and the great experience it gives you.”
The Citadel’s season came to an end against a top-10 team in Clemson, leaving the Bulldogs with a 5-7 record. Miller said his team started off “rocky” but turned things around late in the year.
“We started off pretty rocky, but we kept the mindset of going 1-0 every week,” Miller said. “Every game that was behind us was behind us and to move on to the next game. That gave me the mindset that I haven’t proven anything, the good or the bad, and to keep getting better. Throughout the season, using that mindset, to win every week and not think about the future, we became better as a team.”
Miller is hoping to continue to add chances to touch the ball next year, on special teams and on offense.
“Really, I want to keep doing everything I’m doing,” he said. “I want to get on the field as much as I can to help my team. My goals for next season include becoming a captain, being a more physical back and gaining more roles on special teams.”
The credit, according to Miller, goes back to his time at North Augusta High School, where he waited his turn to become a feature back on offense, playing two years of linebacker and punting.
“Vinny, he was a team guy,” Dan Pippin, North Augusta head coach, said. “He waited behind Demarcus Rouse, who is at Presbyterian College, and played linebacker for us. His senior year, Vinny rushed for something like 2,700 yards and 40 touchdowns. He wasn’t on anybody’s radar in the preseason that year.”
The selflessness that Miller exhibited at North Augusta High School has carried into his time at The Citadel.
“Playing at North Augusta taught me that no role is unimportant, and that when it’s your turn to be called on, to make the best of it,” Miller said. “All the people, teachers and coaches from North Augusta that I’ve grown up with over the years help me to stay motivated and keep going through all the tough times in Charleston.”