This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
In this, the so-called golden era of Bronco football, one could easily make a list of impact players from the last five seasons. Heck, you might even be able to cobble together an all-time team just with Broncos from the last decade—but the Broncos have been recruiting and grooming great players since the very beginning and sometimes we have to force ourselves to look back a bit further. I was born in 1980, the same year the Broncos won the 1-AA national title, and my memories of that particular squad are a little fuzzy, but I will delve back into the not-so-recent past for my pick—to a time when mullets were plentiful and the Vandals were still relevant: the 90s.
The favorite player(s) question continues the series of Where I Come From, a weeklong chance for us to get to know each other a little better and possibly make dinner plans at the Olive Garden, your treat. Who are your all-time favorite Boise State players? Are you a summer blockbuster type that appreciates the high-drama and explosions of Ian Johnson, or are you more of a arthouse type that appreciates the subtle nuances of Sione Tavake? Either way, feel free to share your favorite all-time Broncos, and if you were born before 1975...paint a vivid picture for the young'uns.
My all-time favorite Boise State player
It was really hard to pick my favorite Boise State player because, well, I love all these guys. I mean, I consider Brock Forsey and Gabe Franklin to be personal friends of mine, and when they find that out they're going to be so excited! But seriously, Bronco players are some of the hardest working, dedicated players in the nation and all of them, in at least some small way, are part of a rich heritage—one that's built the program into what it is today. Just thinking about it makes me a little misty—almost as much as this guy that spotted a double rainbow...
Let me set the stage for you. The year is 1994 and Ace of Base sits firmly atop the Billboard pop charts. Meanwhile, the Broncos are sitting atop the Big Sky conference and making a deep playoff run that eventually lands them in the national championship game. Head coach Pokey Allen is rousing the fanbase from a Skip Hall hangover and quarterback Tony Hilde and wide receiver Ryan Ikebe are chewing up recordbooks and headlines. In the Bronco defensive secondary, wearing number 16, stands a 6'3" 185 lb. menace that runs a sub 4.5 40 and can cover the pass and defend against the run. This imposing cover corner's name is DaWuan Miller and he's been a nuisance to the opposition—gaining key interceptions and making big stops that have aided Boise State's miracle run. Nothing too fancy, right? Boise State's bread and butter during their title runs has been a strong secondary. Well, take another look at DuWuan Miller...notice anything..well...missing?
No? Ok, I'll just come right out with it: DaWuan Miller had only one freaking hand! In a sport that chews up and spits out players that are a step too slow, too skinny, or possess bad mechanics or the like, Miller, who was born with a left arm that ended just below the elbow, excelled and was a key player in the Broncos run to the championship game in 1994. For a bit more background...before Miller was terrorizing Big-Sky offenses for the Broncos, he was an all-state player at Battle Ground High School in Washington that averaged 6.9 yards a carry, made 8 to 10 tackles a game and led the team in interceptions his junior and senior years. The craziest part? He was a steal for the Broncos, as they lured him away from strong Pac-10 interest in the Pacific Northwest.
Miller earned Big-Sky player of the week honors in 1992 had a key, game-clinching interception against North Texas State in the 1994 1-AA semifinals, a game-clinching pass defense against Marshall in the semifinals and an interception and two PBUs against Youngstown State in the National Title game. So he not only beat the odds, he was a clutch performer to boot.
In the end, Miller won't be remembered as one of Boise State's greatest DBs ever. He wasn't drafted (though he did go on to play arena ball), and some would even acknowledge that Rashid Gayle was the better DB on those Bronco squads. But I defy anyone to name a Bronco player from any era with more heart than DaWuan Miller. A guy that was told he had no business playing the sport told the naysayers "watch me".
Elsewhere on SB Nation
Just like with yesterday's post, the Where I Came From series is taking place across most every college blog on SBN. Take a look around if you have a couple hours to kill.
Who is your all-time favorite Boise State player? Are you more into flash or substance? Think my pick is justified? Share your thoughts in the comments.