Bradwell Institute kicker and punter David Miller was invited to football camp as a preferred walk-on punter at Georgia State University.
Miller’s dad, Jeff Miller, said the past two weeks have been a whirlwind experience. He said the Panthers’ coaching staff initially requested tapes of his son’s performance back in November.
"We sent a tape up there but we didn’t hear back from them," Jeff Miller said. "About two weeks ago, we get a call saying they are possibly looking for a punter and asked if David was still available."
He said that phone call led to an unofficial visit.
"We met the coaching staff, academic advisors and everyone involved and when we got done they said, ‘We would like you to be a preferred walk-on, bring you into summer camp and let you try and earn the starting punter position.’"
Miller said by the time they got back home, his son had made up his mind and was ready to go.
"Their punter has a chance of being their No. 1 quarterback, so they are scrambling for a punter," David Miller said. "They have another senior who will be fighting for the job, too. Playing for Bill Curry is going to be a big honor and that is one of the reasons why I took the opportunity."
Miller will join former Tigers Ulrick John and Deron Jordan at Georgia State if he earns the job. Miller said it was John who first spoke to Curry about his punting skills.
Miller averaged 41.3 yards per punt in his junior year and 40.2 yards per punt in his senior year at BI. His longest recorded punt was 60 yards last season.
Bradwell football coach Jim Walsh said it’s routine for punters to go through a walk-on process.
"The way kickers are recruited is a lot different than most other kids," Walsh said. "A lot of kickers go through the process that David is going through — you do your walk-on, you do what you are supposed to do. You get the job and receive a scholarship. He is a driven young man, and I feel confident that he is going to win the punting job. And they are obviously very confident in him because David is the only punter that they are inviting into camp. What they are looking for and what he does is a fit and that works out for David."
Miller, a multi-sport athlete who also plays soccer, said all he wanted was an opportunity to play at the next level.
"I wanted to use my athletic ability to possibly get a free education in college. Whether it came through football or soccer, it didn’t matter," he said. "But I felt I had a better opportunity in football. I think it’s going to be better for me in the future because I have to earn it rather than it being given to me.
"It’s going to make me have to work harder. As soon as soccer (season) is over, I’m going to be in the weight room. I have to get some weight on me, so I’ll be hitting it hard. And having the goal and desire in mind to be great is going to help drive me and make me want it more."
"On the college level, all you can ask for is an opportunity and he is going to get that at Georgia State," Walsh said. "David knows what he has to do in terms of winning the kicking job. And at the same time, he is going to get an education, which, to me, is the most important thing."
Miller’s father said being invited to participate in camp gives his son an opportunity to compete early on.
"The NCAA only lets 95 kids come into camp, scholarship and non-scholarship kids," he said. "So the rest of the players they might bring in can’t come in until school starts. They want to see him in camp from day one and it’s really exciting. For four years, he has been trying to prepare. ... Soccer was his first love, but I think he enjoys football. As a parent, I’m proud of him and I’m proud of all the work he has done in preparing himself for this."
"I will only be focusing on one thing, so it will be better for me," David Miller said, adding that punting is far more mental than physical. However, he added that he will exercise for endurance and plans to run a lot to increase his leg speed and kick through the ball more quickly.
"It’s going to be a lot more consistent in college, and I think that will play to my advantage in being comfortable," he said.
Walsh said Miller will be in good hands at the second-year program in Atlanta.
"I’ve known coach Curry for a long time. He is a great guy and a great coach and is doing things the right way. And I think David is going to be a part of something pretty big and I’m just happy for him," Walsh said.