Undrafted, Julian Miller Out to Prove Himself in NFL - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Undrafted, Julian Miller Out to Prove Himself in NFL

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MORGANTOWN -

Julian Miller had been waiting quite some time for the NFL Draft to roll around so he could find out where he would begin playing the game he loved at the professional level.

On Saturday, he relaxed at his uncle's house in Columbus, Ohio, spending time with the people who meant the most to him on a day that would determine his future.

The fourth round passed and he was not selected, but that did not faze him. Many projections had Miller slipping all the way to the sixth or seventh round, so he remained optimistic that is was simply a matter of time before he received the call.

Fellow WVU defenders Bruce Irvin, Najee Goode and Keith Tandy were picked off the board, but Miller's name went unmentioned.

As the seventh round wore on, he knew the moment he waited for was not coming. Rather than a selection in the draft, Miller would take the undrafted route with a free agent contract.

"It was out of my hands," he said Saturday night. "In retrospect, it's just another chapter in my career. It just seems like it's another card that I've been dealt and from here on out, it's just playing with a chip on my shoulder. You hear that a lot, but that's something that's really instilled in me right now."

Miller finished his career at West Virginia with the second-most sacks (27.5) and tackles for loss (42.5) in program history. He was named to multiple All-Big East first teams following his junior and senior seasons for the Mountaineers, and yet he went largely unrecognized.

In truth, it was a trend of sorts throughout his time in Morgantown. When he first came on the scene for WVU, he was the up-and-coming freshman who would make a splash as a sophomore.

He did just that the following year, but for the rest of his career, he took a back seat to Irvin, the new star on the defense. 

His nine sacks as a junior would have been the talk of the team any other year, just not when Irvin tallied 14.

But Miller never paid attention to the individual accolades – not publicly, at least. He was a team player and would do whatever it took to help West Virginia to victory, even if it meant switching to the tackle position in his final year to make room on the line for other players.

"I'm just happy that he did get a chance, but him being overlooked is crazy because he's made a lot of plays, he's had a lot of sacks throughout his career," Goode says of Miller. "He did what he had to do at WVU, he balled out and I just wish somebody would have picked him up in the draft so he could feel the same sensation that I did."

So when Miller watched his teammates come off the board, he was happy, but at the same time curious as to what it was about him that he couldn't join them in what they were feeling as the day wore on.

"Honestly, it hurt. It really did," says Miller. "It hurt because I know I went out there and played with those guys, I know I put in the work with those guys and I feel as if production-wise, I put up numbers with those guys and I just feel like the recognition should have been there from somebody. From here on out, I've got a point to prove."

He has the change to prove his point in a city not far from home and on a team he is familiar with.

Along with former WVU teammate Robert Sands, who the Bengals drafted in 2011, Miller will also join Marvin Jones, a receiver from Cal who trained with him in Arizona before getting drafted by Cincinnati in Saturday's fifth round.

"Being close to home is always good," says Miller. "Knowing the people around me and having that support group is definitely going to benefit me in the long run."

He also joins the seventh-best defense from a year ago, one that clearly will teach him well if he is able to stick around through the camps.

Miller knows all that really matters is that he has an opportunity. He has a place on an NFL team and now is the time he must show exactly why every team that passed over him through the course of seven rounds of selections made a mistake.

"It's a new me now," he says. "I've got my foot in the door and this opportunity that I have in Cincinnati is going to mean a lot to me. I have to prove people wrong and make a name for myself.

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