High School Sports

Bright collegiate future keeps Scott County's Miller strong during lost senior season

Scott County's Grayson Miller scored the go-ahead touchdown as against Henry Clay in the 6A Regional Final on Nov. 22, 2013.
Scott County's Grayson Miller scored the go-ahead touchdown as against Henry Clay in the 6A Regional Final on Nov. 22, 2013. Herald-Leader

Five plays.

That's how long Grayson Miller's senior year of high school football lasted before he went down with a season-ending injury.

Miller, a two-way starter and team captain for defending Class 6A champion Scott County, suffered a dislocated ankle and broken fibula in his left leg in the first few minutes of the Cardinals' opener against Lafayette on Aug. 22.

"The first thing I thought was, 'Well, this is what a broken bone feels like,'" Miller said. "Then almost immediately I realized what it meant.

"The reason I started screaming wasn't the pain. It was because I knew my senior season was over."

It took awhile for Miller, one of the top college prospects in the state, to deal with his disappointment. But now he's looking to the future instead of reflecting on what happened to him on that cruel summer night.

"It was rough. It took me about a month to stop being angry about it," he said. "Football was one thing I really love to do and I'm really passionate about.

"But I finally realized you can't do much more than just put your faith in God, that He has the right plan for you, and that next year is going to be even better."

Next year Miller will be part of Michigan State's football program. He grew up a Spartans devotee because his dad, John, was a standout defensive back for them.

John had four interceptions in Michigan State's 1987 victory over Michigan, and he had two picks in the Spartans' Rose Bowl win over Southern Cal the following New Year's Day.

Father and son have been going to games in Lansing, Mich., together since Grayson was in elementary school. In 2009, when John was asked to serve as honorary captain for the Michigan game, Grayson accompanied him.

"We were in the locker room before the game, and he walked onto the field for the coin toss with me," John said. "As a 12-year-old kid, how do you not get enamored with all that?"

When Spartans Coach Mark Dantonio offered him a scholarship this summer, Grayson said it was "a no-brainer" to commit.

John thinks his son cleared an emotional hurdle in dealing with his injury thanks in part to attending Michigan State's games against Eastern Michigan and Nebraska the last few weeks.

"Once he's gotten on campus, the coaches are smiling and welcoming him with open arms," John said. "For the first time since he got hurt, instead of dwelling on what he's lost this season, he's gotten a glimpse of his future. That's helped rebuild his confidence."

Grayson is still very much a part of Scott County's team. He's lifting weights, he's studying film and he's on the sidelines on Friday nights. He was part of the Cards' mid-field contingent for the coin toss before last week's game against Henry Clay.

"My teammates have been my best friends since I was 8 years old," he said. "I want to help them and stay involved every way I can."

Scott County Coach Jim McKee has seen Miller come to terms with his injury.

"It's been a process for him, like it is in dealing with any kind of disappointment in life," McKee said. "You have heartbreak, then denial, then you realize you'll be OK.

"Grayson's done a great job continuing to give us the best leadership he could in his situation."

Miller takes some consolation in having been an integral part of Scott County's undefeated state championship run last year. But being relegated to the sidelines this season while the Cards seek a repeat title leaves him with mixed emotions.

"I did everything possible coming into this season to be one of the best players in the state," he said. "I truly believed we were going to break records for Scott County High School this year.

"If we can make it to the state and win again, I'm going to be the happiest person in the world for all my teammates. But it's not going to be all happy for me personally, because I'll know what I missed out on."

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