This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Keep up to date on our Baker's Dozen series here.
Von Miller played his college football at Texas A&M. SB Nation's Aggies blogger, Michael Taglienti, was kind enough to join us to discuss the top pass rusher in the draft. Make sure you head over to I Am The 12th Man to check out everything you need to know about A&M.
"Von Miller spent his first two years at Texas A&M at DE," began Taglienti. "In 2009, Mike Sherman decided to move Miller to the 'Jack' position, a hybrid DE/OLB spot. Miller responded by leading the country with 17 sacks. As a senior, Miller moved to the 'Joker' position in Tim Deruyter's new 3-4 defense. Despite being limited in five games due to an ankle injury, Miller led the Big 12 with 10.5 sacks and was named a consensus first-team All American."
Miller stepped up over and over again in big situations for the Aggies.
"Big players make big plays in big games, and Miller defined this role for the Aggies in 2010," Taglienti explains. "Miller made a game-winning interception against Texas on Thanksgiving night. Miller led two goal-line stands against Oklahoma. When the Aggies needed to make a stop, you could count on Von Miller to make a play. He helped revive the Wrecking Crew defense for A&M, and showed a new generation of Aggies what dominating defense could look like."
The biggest question mark for most collegiate pass rushers is whether they can adjust to playing OLB after playing DE in college. Miller does not have those question marks, as A&M played the 3-4.
"As an OLB in the 3-4, Miller was asked to drop into coverage every week," Taglienti said. "His interception against Texas was on a play when he had dropped into coverage to cover a RB."
Unsurprisingly, this upset of the in-state rival Longhorns is Taglienti's favorite recollection of Miller.
"My favorite memory of Von Miller was the way he dominated Texas on national television on Thanksgiving night in '10," said Taglienti. "Against Texas, Miller had seven tackles, including three tackles for loss, two sacks, and an interception on Texas' last drive to seal the win for the Aggies."
Miller also excelled at stopping the run, even with his great sack totals.
"It is always amusing to watch the talking heads on ESPN give their opinion on a player that they have obviously never watched," opines Taglienti. "Since Miller put up such great pass rushing numbers as a junior and senior, most just assumed that all he did was rush the passer. Miller was great against the run the last two years. The two goal line stands against OU in '10 consisted of Miller making tackles for loss against the run on fourth down."
Miller's sack totals dropped from 2009 to 2010, and I asked Taglienti for the reason.
"Miller injured his ankle in the season opener in '10," explains the Texas A&M fan. "This limited his play in the first five games of the season. While his sack totals were down in '10 compared to '09, I think he had a better year on the field."
His legacy at A&M will be that of a stud defender who resurrected a long-standing tradition of defensive excellence.
"Aggies will remember Miller as the man who brought back the Wrecking Crew to A&M," explains Taglienti. "After years of watching poor defense, Von Miller helped turn the defense around in '10 and showed Aggie fans that the defense could be counted on to win games."
As far as off the field, Miller has stayed grounded and been accommodating to fans.
"Miller has really embraced all the Aggie traditions and is the most popular football player since Dat Nguyen was strolling around campus in the late '90s," says Taglienti. "Some of you may have seen Sydney Carter help lead the Aggies to the Women's Basketball National Championship. Miller is dating Carter's older sister (they both attended Desoto High School) and was a regular at all the women's games. Everyone has commented about how Miller has not let all the accolades go to his head and remained the same old Von Miller. He still takes time to give kids autographs and answer all of their questions. Miller is everything you hope a graduate of your university will be."
As for the transition to the NFL, Taglienti agrees with most draftniks that Miller should make a smooth transition to success.
"I think Miller will be great in the NFL," Taglienti predicted. "He has the best first step in the nation, and if he goes to a 3-4 defense I think he will go to the Pro Bowl multiple times. He has Derrick Thomas type ability. I just hope he goes to the right team and the right scheme."
Citing a source, Taglienti thinks the Buffalo Bills were, and continue to be, very interested in Miller.
"Miller returned for his senior season in '10 after receiving a late first round to early second round draft grade," continued Taglienti. "Evidently, the Buffalo coaches liked him enough where they would have drafted him in the first round in 2010."
Many thanks to Michael Taglienti. Make sure you check out I Am The 12th Man for all your Texas A&M info.