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Boomer Bio: Dejuan Miller
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Receiver has shown promise as team looks for key contributors
Four games into the 2009 football season and many of the questions surrounding Oklahoma’s offense focused primarily on the Sooner receivers and their overall lack of production. Besides go-to guy Ryan Broyles and a few flashes of promise from Brandon Caleb, there was very little to brag about.
With star tight end Jermaine Gresham sidelined via a season-ending knee injury and quarterback Sam Bradford’s season in doubt due to an injured shoulder, the Sooners were looking for alternative playmakers to help energize a unit that was struggling to find any semblance of consistency.
Dropped passes were the rule rather than the exception, and most of the young receivers touted to replace departed stars Juaquin Iglesias, Manny Johnson and Quentin Chaney seemed lost in the shuffle.
Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, returned for the Baylor game and played well, throwing for 389 yards and a touchdown. However, those numbers could have been much greater had it not been for 10 drops.
The silver lining that day turned out to be Dejuan Miller, who hauled in a career-high five passes for 67 yards. Four of those catches came in the second half, including a 47-yarder that set up a Jimmy Stevens field goal.
Finally, the highly-touted prospect out of Metuchen, N.J., had something more than bruises to show for 17 long, hard months of work as a Sooner.
“That wait seemed never-ending, to be honest. It seemed like a long time, all the time thinking ‘when is this moment finally going to come?’” explained Miller, who saw limited action in six games as a freshman and caught a total of two passes. “I went through a little rough stretch at the beginning of the season and Brandon (Caleb) was there telling me to keep my head up and focus and keep a positive attitude. That’s what I did and everything started to fall into place, and here we go.”
Miller was quiet the following weekend in Dallas when Bradford was injured again and this time lost for the season. But with Caleb hampered with an ankle injury, the Sooners and backup QB Landry Jones were again looking for viable options besides Broyles.
Running back DeMarco Murray was thrown into the mix with a start at wide receiver against Nebraska, but it was Miller who proved to be the biggest producer. After a modest 3-catch effort in a win at Kansas, the 6-foot-4, 224-pound sophomore delivered a 9-catch, 94-yard performance against Kansas State that included his first career touchdown reception.
“My time came tonight, and I think I really showed everybody at OU that I’m here and I’m ready to ball. I’m here to stay,” said Miller in the aftermath of his career-best game.
“I know I’m talented. I don’t want to sound too cocky, but that’s the confidence I have in myself. I know I can play at a high level.”
And Miller wasn’t alone in recognizing his coming out party.
“I’ve always had confidence in him. I’ve seen what he does in practice and what he’s done since spring,” said Jones. “He’s a hard-working kid. He’s going to make every play for you. Dejuan is a big, physical target out there. Against smaller corners, he’s going to use his body and wingspan against them.”
And that’s just what Miller has done.
Through those initial four games, Miller snagged three passes for a total of 18 yards. Over the following six contests, he hauled in 24 balls for almost 300 yards.
“It feels really good. I feel like I’m hitting my stride and playing well for the team,” explained Miller. “ Starting these last few games has really helped my confidence. The coaches have faith in me and are giving me a chance to show what I can do, and I’m trying to make the most of this opportunity.”
Miller showed up on the OU campus on the heals of a prep career that saw him star in three sports — football, basketball and track. He was a state champion in the 200-meter dash and earned All-State honors for his work on the football field.
As the 13th-ranked receiving prospect in the country, he received plenty of offers from various programs around the country before finally deciding on Oklahoma. Both of his parents grew up in Oklahoma City and the fact he still has family in the area played to the Sooners’ favor.
And now, well, it looks as if Miller’s decision is starting to pay major dividends for coach Bob Stoops’ team. He ranked third on the team with 27 receptions through 10 games, and those numbers seem to be a good indictor of even bigger things to come.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Nov. 26 issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877)