Mixed emotions remain for senior David Miller when he thinks back to a conversation that occurred a little more than a year ago.
Expected to be the heir apparent for the starting quarterback job last fall, Miller was told shortly before the season by the Gahanna Lincoln High School football team’s coaching staff that then-newcomer Mike Lowery had edged him out for the position.
It wasn’t something he took lightly.
“It took a little while because I’ve been playing quarterback since I was around 10 or 11 and I fell in love with quarterback as soon as I met it,” Miller said. “Coming into my junior year, I’m thinking I’m going to start. Throughout my freshman and sophomore years they’re telling me I’m going to play a big role my junior year. We had a little meeting with me, Mike (and the coaches), and when they told us who was starting, I just broke down crying.”
Refusing to let the disappointment linger, Miller made a move to wide receiver that has proven to be beneficial to all parties involved.
Miller put together one of the program’s greatest receiving displays in years when he caught 10 passes for 262 yards and one touchdown in a 27-23 loss Sept. 8 to Cincinnati Elder.
He followed that with nine receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-20 victory over New Albany on Sept. 15 as the Lions improved to 3-1.
“I’ve got so much love for the game that I want to lead the team, but I know I’ve got to lead somewhere else,” Miller said. “With me immediately seeing I could catch and run routes, I just need to work on my routes and my starts coming off the line. (Assistant) coach (Nyakeh) Yovonie has been really working with us, and he put so much work into me that I started believing him … that wide receiver is where I need to be. I just went in and made plays and felt like that’s what I needed to do.”
Miller has 24 catches for 401 yards and four scores on the season as the Lions prepare to play Friday, Sept. 22, at Dublin Coffman, which lost to Olentangy 31-14 on Sept. 15 to fall to 3-1.
In Gahanna’s 31-13 loss to Coffman last season, Miller had a breakout game, finishing one reception off the program record with 12 catches for 195 yards.
Despite such limited experience at the position heading into last season, Miller finished with 47 catches for 612 yards.
Against Elder, he had receptions of 60, 41, 36, 27 and 20 yards in addition to a 28-yard touchdown catch.
“It was a lot of him making guys miss (against Elder),” coach Bruce Ward said. “A lot of the credit goes to what he did up (the) field because he had a lot of 5-yard hitches that he turned into (long) gains.
“He’s a kid, and it wasn’t an easy adjustment (to wide receiver), but he knew he wanted to play. Once he didn’t win the quarterback job, he asked how (he could) help the team.”
After Lowery passed for 2,350 yards with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, the Lions have had a more balanced offense with the emergence this fall of junior running back Justus Harris (506 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns).
Lowery, now a junior, has completed 73 of 117 passes for 787 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.
During Gahanna’s opening 24-3 victory over Westerville Central on Aug. 25, Miller got a short stint at quarterback and completed all four of his pass attempts for 36 yards while also rushing six times for 31 yards.
Also a key player in the defensive backfield, Miller has been offered by Ohio Dominican and Wheeling Jesuit and is interested in larger schools such as Kentucky, Bowling Green and Ohio University.
Ward took over as the Lions’ coach when Miller was a freshman, but the two knew each other because Miller’s older brother, 2011 Beechcroft graduate Christian Pruitt, had played for Ward during Ward’s tenure as the Cougars’ coach from 2009-13.
Another of Miller’s older brothers is 2016 Gahanna graduate Kameron Miller, who helped the boys basketball team earn a regional runner-up finish as a senior.
David Miller, who is 6-foot and 175 pounds, started the last two games of the 2015 regular season at quarterback and also saw extensive action during a 28-14 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.
This fall, a wide receiver corps that features Miller and Jerome Buckner is one of the deepest areas of the team.
“(Moving from quarterback) really hurt me, but I knew my team needed me somewhere else, so around Week 1 (of last season) I knew I needed to find another position to play if I wanted to play college football,” Miller said. “It feels real good. Any way I can help my team I would do even if I wasn’t starting. Our wide receiver corps is so strong that you can’t focus on one person, you’ve got to focus on us all.”