Despite injuries, CU Buffs’ Chris Miller setting lofty goals

Colorado cornerback Chris Miller breaks up a pass intended for USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. on Oct. 13.

When he’s healthy, Chris Miller might be the best cornerback on the Colorado football roster.

The key for the sophomore is staying healthy.

A hamstring injury sidelined Miller for several weeks in fall camp last season and caused him to miss the opening game. After returning, he played in six games and earned his way into the starting lineup, but a fractured thumb ended his season five weeks early.

Now, he’s dealing with a shoulder injury. During a recent workout, Miller’s right shoulder dislocated. He had surgery and will miss spring practices, which begin March 18.

“I don’t really see it at as a setback,” he said. “I just see it as something to give me more adversity to make me better for the future. I’ll be out for spring ball, but I’ll be ready for Day 1 of fall camp.”

In a secondary loaded with question marks and unproven talent, the Buffs could use a healthy Miller, who was starting to play exceptional football when he injured his thumb against Washington on Oct. 20. He’s got the ability to be the Buffs’ top corner next season.

“I was finding my groove and I was starting to learn the game more and more and (the injury) was bad,” Miller said, “but I just still take everything as a lesson because it gives me more time to look back and analyze the things I did wrong the and things I did right and it’s going to make me push harder, because now I have to.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound Miller, from Denton, Texas, came to CU in the fall of 2017 with plenty to learn at corner. Although he earned all-state honors as a corner and receiver, Miller said, “I was mainly a receiver.”

His talent led him to success as a corner in high school, but he spent the 2017 season redshirting at CU and really learning how to play the position.

“I started transitioning to corner and I just basically started getting my techniques down and started understanding the game and things that were getting me beat,” he said. “Once I started learning how to analyze my losses and turn them into wins, that improved for me.”

Last year, he was one of CU’s most improved players from the 2017 recruiting class and began turning heads on the practice field and in games.

“The thing I learned the most about football is the people that are the most aggressive and the smartest people are going to make the plays,” he said. “You just have to have that dog mentality that you’re going to make that play every time. That’s just how you’re going to get it. You can’t really take a play off at this level or even slack one bit and I like that.”

Miller said he learned a lot from previous head coach Mike MacIntyre, who was a long-time defensive backs coach, as well as position coaches Ashley Ambrose and ShaDon Brown. He’s now looking forward to learning from new head coach Mel Tucker — a highly respected defensive backs coach — and corners coach Travares Tillman.

“I love the new coaches,” he said. “I think the defense is more pro style and it gives us a lot more freedom in the back end. The coaches, they have a lot more to bring to us and a lot more to teach us. You can only get better from knowledge, so I’m just trying to soak up everything I can take from them.

“I’m excited to see what I can learn from them and just take everything and apply it on the field.”

Of course, applying those lessons to the field requires him to be healthy. Miller has his sights set on the Buffs’ season opener against Colorado State on Aug. 30 in Denver.

“I want to play all 12 games this year and then be an All-Pac-12 player or an All-American,” he said. “That’s my goals, as high as can be. I can’t wait (to play). CSU better be ready, because I’m coming.”

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.