Ninjames' Note: Hey guys. This is another one of those shorter player profiles, and I'm going to make a point to do these on players guaranteed a roster spot, but I felt with the overwhelming chorus of support for this guy (and it appears to be legitimate support based on actual talent), I've decided to go with Brit Miller for this one. Enjoy.
Brit Miller is a player who will be trying to battle his way onto the 49ers roster in 2010. He was on the active roster last season (2009 for those of you just tuning in), but it was a late promotion when the team needed some contributions on special teams and had a place for him. I'll have more on that later as part of our 53-man roster projections here at Niners Nation, but for now, as much on Miller as I can give (which isn't much).
Brit Miller halfway through an epic
re-imagining of the Ickey Shuffle.
Miller played linebacker in college. He played all four years for the University of Illinois, and he actually had himself a pretty good college career. Miller made 283 tackles, 33 of them for a loss in 48 games, earning first team All-Big Ten honors from the media, and second team from his coaches.
Still, he wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and wasn't drafted. After a short stint in rookie minicamps with the Carolina Panthers, the 49ers signed him and promptly converted him to a fullback. Miller was alright with the position change, he was just hungry for a chance to play.
Early reports were that Miller showed a lot of fire on the practice field. He gave it his all, and made early strides on the offensive side of the ball. Miller had a breakout game in the preseason, snaring two touchdown passes against the Denver Broncos. All of us fans were rather surprised, and excited. Miller was just as excited as we were, having said: "It was amazing. If someone were to tell me that before the game I would have scored twice, I probably would have laughed at them." Many are of the opinion that this game was the catalyst for Miller making the practice squad once cuts were made.
After he did indeed make the team's practice squad, he continued to progress, with hopes of some day being on the team's 53-man roster.
He didn't have to wait long. Taking advantage of an injured Curtis Taylor, who was placed on IR, Miller was promoted to the 53-man roster and was activated for game time. He replaced Taylor on special teams and made the best of it, making six tackles on special teams, four of which were solo, in only limited playing time near the end of the season.
Miller earned the team's Thomas Herrion Memorial Award, an honor given to a rookie or first-year player who makes the best of every opportunity to turn the situation positive regardless. So his future is looking bright with the team, but he does have a rather large obstacle (literally) in Moran Norris, but that's for another time when the 53-man roster projects get to the running backs/fullbacks.
One thing to note about Miller, at least when comparing him to say, Moran Norris, is that he doesn't look the part of a physically gifted athlete. He didn't post very stellar numbers at his pro day, but outrunning all those Denver defenders for the touchdown was mighty impressive. I seem to remember Josh Morgan being caught up from behind at some point last season and that really irked me. He's aware of his size and what people think of it, too:
Being an undrafted free agent and a guy like I am, I don’t have big muscles. I don’t look the part a lot of the time. I have a sweet belly. But I love proving people that I belong.
He's been outspoken about wanting to prove people wrong, outspoken about the fact that he loves physical contact, and very confident in everything he does. This will play an important factor in the team's upcoming decision at who to keep as far as fullbacks go. Singletary does indeed seem like the kind of guy who, instead of tossing up a coin when it comes to relatively even players, would jump at the opportunity to grab a guy who wants contact.
Let's see if he can prove to all of us that he belongs.