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CU Buffs notes: Healthy Chris Miller battling for job at safety

BOULDER, CO - AUGUST 13:University of Colorado Boulder Safety Chris Miller (No. 0), wearing a non contact jersey, runs a drill during practice on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – AUGUST 13:University of Colorado Boulder Safety Chris Miller (No. 0), wearing a non contact jersey, runs a drill during practice on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
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Chris Miller could have moved on from football and nobody would have blamed him.

After all, during his first four seasons at Colorado, Miller has appeared in only 12 games because he’s dealt with numerous injuries, including a torn ACL, fractured thumb, torn hamstring and two shoulder injuries.

This month, however, the 6-foot, 190-pound safety from Denton, Texas, is healthy and angling to make an impact in his fifth season with the Buffaloes.

“It’s going pretty good,” Miller said. “I’m just out there communicating and getting good with the new playbook with (defensive coordinator Chris) Wilson and the rest of my defensive teammates.

“I feel like I’ve been out here every practice doing my thing and I feel like I haven’t really missed a beat. So really it’s just getting out there, get to the season and play.”

One of the most talented players on CU’s defense when he is healthy, Miller came to CU as a cornerback but transitioned to safety last year. Every time he has seemingly gained some momentum, the injury bug bites again. In 2020, he played in only two of CU’s six games because of a shoulder injury.

A love of football, a good support system and an upbeat attitude have kept him going.

“It’s been difficult but not really too difficult,” he said. “There’s other things that you can get through and develop through life. So when I get down, I just do something else, like go fishing, hang with my friends, play some video games, get into some new shows or something like that.

“I’m a self-motivator. I’ve got a lot of heart, so I don’t really let injuries get me down. I just keep fighting and keep going on. Life gets hard for everybody. Everybody has their own struggles and their own things that they have to persevere through and mine have been little injuries but it’s been nothing. I still have my family and my friends, so I’ve been able to get by things. I’m still here; still pushing, still playing.”

Miller is competing for a starting role at safety, enjoying the daily work with fellow safeties Isaiah Lewis and Mark Perry, along with the rest of his teammates.

“It’s been good,” he said. “We’ve all been out there competing, conversing, just working out all the kinks of our defense and just a lot of talking, so it’s good ball.”

Progress in trenches

CU is nearing the mid-point of preseason practices, with Tuesday being the 12th of 25 practices before the Sept. 3 opener against Northern Colorado. Offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue is happy with how his group is coming along but said it’s a work in progress.

“I think they’re fine,” he said. “We had to make a couple of changes here and there, moving tackles around, moving guards around. Offensive line is a position where there’s a lot of communication going on and a lot of footwork, fundamental, technique stuff, so it takes a while to catch up.

“I’m pleased with our effort right now. We’ve just got to get a little better on some things.”

While CU continues to deal with some injuries up front, Rodrigue likes the development of several players. In particular, tackle Jake Wiley has stepped up in the absence of returning starter Frank Fillip, who has been recovering from a shoulder injury since spring.

CU is also getting a boost from the return of Casey Roddick, who started all six games at right guard in 2020 but missed spring with a medical issue.

“He’s been full go and hasn’t missed a beat for the last two practices,” Rodrigue said. “He’s getting back. He’s got to knock a little rust off, but as far as athletic ability, that’s still there.”

When healthy, the Buffs could have quite a few game-ready linemen, but Rodrigue said that continues to develop.

“It depends on how you describe depth,” he said. “Do we have bodies? Yeah. In the spring, we didn’t even have bodies. Do we have quality depth? That’s something we’re working on. It’s much better than in the spring.”

Ticket update

As of the close of business on Monday, CU had sold 18,640 season tickets to the general public, with a renewal rate of 78% from 2019.

CU had also sold 5,838 student sport passes, a number that is higher than usual with the start of classes still a week away. CU expects to hit the max of roughly 12,000 on student sport passes.

Notes

True freshmen linemen Edgar Amaya and Jackson Anderson are making an early impression, Rodrigue said. Amaya has been contributing at guard with the second-team offense, while Jackson is getting a lot of reps as a third-team center. … The Buffs will take the day off Wednesday and return to practice Thursday.

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