Vaught's Views: Miller continues to develop

August 28, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

RICHMOND - As far as Danny Hope is concerned, Matt Miller could be playing for a lot of Division I schools. However, Hope couldn't be happier that the former Boyle County High School receiver will be in Eastern Kentucky's starting lineup tonight when the Colonels start their season.

Eastern opens against Division I foe Bowling Green, a top 25 team last year, in Hope's head coaching debut.

Hope is counting on Miller to make even more big plays than he did last year when he was Eastern's second leading receiver.

"He's a super talented guy. He has a great work ethic, is real upbeat, has good size and has exceptional speed for his size," said Hope. "He is much faster than I thought he would be when I got here.

"He'll run 4.5 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) or faster, and that makes him one of our faster guys. He really has the opportunity to do some special things this year."


Miller did a lot of special things at Boyle when he helped the Rebels win consecutive state titles in 1999 and 2000. He had the size, speed and hands that Division I recruiters say they covet, yet he was largely ignored by big-time football schools.

How did so many schools underestimate him?

How did so many schools underestimate him based on the impact he's already made for Eastern?

"He's still a developmental player in some ways," said Hope, a former assistant at Louisville and Purdue. "He needs to play fast on all his routes. He runs some routes sharper than others.

"God put a different blueprint out for each and every one of us. I can see how despite his size and speed, some coaches may have overlooked him. I can see where he might still have been a little green in high school. He's an awful big guy to have been a wide receiver in high school. I'm just glad we have him."

That's because Hope plans a more wide-open offense than previous Eastern coach Roy Kidd used. The new coach wants Miller to catch more passes this year and provide big-play capability for his offense.

"He's working hard to become a more complete player, but he's always a deep threat when he's in the game," Hope said. "He's worked on running all his routes faster and getting better every day at playing the game at the speed he's capable of doing. He's the type of guy that the more he works, the better he gets."

Bugg has moved to tight end

The same words apply to redshirt freshman tight end Patrick Bugg of Harrodsburg. He played quarterback at Harrodsburg and was a wide receiver last season at Eastern before moving to tight end.

"He's almost 6-5 and will run under 4.6," Hope said. "His limitation right now is becoming a more physical player. That just does not come natural to a guy who was a high school quarterback and then a receiver.

"I really liked the way he came back and put his face on people and used his speed as an ally to help him be more physical. He's playing with a lot of courage and he came back to practice a lot better player than when he left after spring practice. I think he has a real future for us at tight end."

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