Broken bones, stretched ligaments and tendons, myriad bumps and bruises, thousands of hours on the practice fields and even more time in the weight room. It's hard to believe Ryan Miller endured it all for a sport he once hated.

The former Colorado offensive lineman is just a few months away from his opportunity to make a nice living playing football in the National Football League.

Miller was the only Buff -- from a class of 28 seniors -- invited to the NFL Scouting Combine later this month in Indianapolis. He is preparing for that three-day torture test of workouts and interviews with all 32 franchises at Velocity Sports Performance in Irvine, Calif., under the direction of his agents at Athletes First.

Round Two will come soon after at Colorado's pro timing day March 8. Miller will be reunited that day with many of his former teammates for one final workout together on the CU campus in front of scouts.

He reflected recently on his five years in Boulder and where it appears to be taking him.

He has come a long way since he was a 6-foot-4, 270-pound sophomore at Columbine High School in 2004 questioning his future.


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"I was a baby," Miller said. "I had this huge man's body but I didn't have the mindset for it. Once that mindset came around to harness the physical ability, it really kicked in. It was awesome."

Miller said Columbine coach Andy Lowry deserves as much credit as anyone for showing him the path to where he is now. He said before his junior year in high school when Lowry learned to push the right buttons in Miller, he would never have guessed football would become his life.

"I hated football," Miller said. "I could not stand it.

"Once you realize you're good at something or that you have potential in something and you can really kind of unlock it and help move that along, the entire game changes. It was such a wonderful feeling to realize, 'OK, I'm going to get the chance to go to college and play for Colorado and then I might get the chance to go to the NFL and hopefully end up playing for the Broncos.'"

Miller became a Parade All-American and a five-star recruit in 2006. He became the master of his destiny with the opportunity to choose from more than 20 major universities and football programs. He laughs when looking back on that process and comparing it to the process he is currently working through to get to the top of the heap in football.

"You really don't have a clue," Miller said when asked if his agent has given him any idea of where he will be drafted and what teams might be interested. "These guys are very meticulous. You feel like you're meeting with the same person with a different logo on every time you talk with one of these guys. It's a 180-degree turn. You don't pick and choose. They pick and choose.

"I definitely feel like it's out of my hands as far as where I'll end up. But I have no doubt in my mind that I am definitely increasing my chances for one to like me better than the others, if that makes sense. I'm busting my butt out here and working as hard as I can so that exactly wherever I do go and whatever does happen, I know I've done the best to physically prepare myself for that."

Miller said he is proud of what he put on film for NFL coaches, scouts and personnel directors to evaluate leading up the draft. He said he understands his career at CU didn't produce as many wins and celebrations as he and Buffs fans would have liked, but he gave the program everything he had as he plans to do for whatever franchise gives him a chance later this year.

He was coached by three different offensive line coaches under three different offensive coordinators in at least four different offensive schemes and two head coaches in Boulder. He credits all those men for helping him improve and grow and become a legitimate NFL prospect.

But the coach who served as the biggest influence on him during his time in Boulder wasn't even with the program during his junior and senior seasons.

Miller said former CU offensive lineman Brad Bedell, who played briefly in the NFL before returning to Boulder to work as an offensive technical intern (2007-2009) was as big an influence on him as any of his coaches, and he continues to be.

"He's been a mentor, he's been a great friend and he's been a phenomenal football player who knows his stuff," Miller said. "As a young freshman coming in and playing, plus school, that's not exactly an easy thing to do and he held me together."

Miller started every game in his senior season at right guard and played every offensive snap of the season except for the final snap of the game against Arizona when four fellow senior offensive linemen entered the game to play one snap on Senior Day.

Miller produced 14 more "great effort blocks" than his closest teammate over the course of the season and was named second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation and third-team All-American by the Associated Press.

Despite starting every game of his junior and senior seasons at right guard, The National Football Post ranks Miller the 17th best offensive tackle in the draft. Miller said he believes most teams view him as a right tackle. He played tackle at times during his first three years (one was cut short by injury) at CU.

The National Football Post had this to say in its scouting report on Miller:

"The big guy can bend, but leverage is always going to be a struggle for him inside. However, he does have some natural balance/coordination to his game in both the run and pass game and in my mind is better suited to play as a right tackle at the next level in any scheme rather than guard."

Miller played well in the East-West Shrine game last month, at times blocking for former CU quarterback Tyler Hansen, who also performed well in the game. Miller said he has talked with former teammates such as Nate Solder and Scotty McKnight, who went through the draft process last year. He said they have been a huge influence in some of the decisions he has made in terms of who to hire as an agent and where to work out this spring.

"I would love to get picked," Miller said. "It has been a dream since high school and childhood. Not a lot of people get to play in the NFL. A lot of people played in college, a lot of people play football, but when you think about the NFL, there (are) 32 teams and 53-man rosters. There is a very finite group of people who make that group, that family.

"I would be honored and humbled to be a part of it, but I also feel like I have trained and I am training to deserve that."