MILLER EYES THE FUTURE
Class 4A player of the year chooses Grand View as his next chapter
Drake Miller saw a little of himself in every school he visited during a whirlwind football recruiting tour.
The Fort Dodge senior’s decision to attend Grand View University in Des Moines wasn’t strictly about the facilities or even the program itself at the end of the day, though.
“There were great things about every stop,” said Miller, an academic all-state selection with a 3.994 overall grade point average. “It was definitely a tough decision. But in my mind and in my heart, I kept coming back to Grand View because on top of everything else it had to offer, their academics aligned exactly with what I was looking for (in a major).
“I’m realistic about the fact that football will end for me someday. So getting the most out of my educational experience is going to be my top priority. I’ve been saying that for as long as I can remember; school is what I need to take care of first and foremost. I want to keep living by that. Grand View was the best fit for me, top to bottom, at the end of the day.”
Miller, a 200-pound quarterback, shattered every passing record in Dodger grid history on his way to unanimous first team all-state honors this past fall. He was recently named the Class 4A player of the year by the Iowa High School Football Coaches Association.
Fort Dodge posted a 7-3 overall record and reached the state playoffs before bowing out against now six-time defending champion West Des Moines Dowling.
“The winning was great and awards are special obviously, but looking back now, I’ll always remember how we came together as a team and had a unique bond,” said Miller, who finished his prep career ranked fourth all-time in 4A history for passing, second in touchdowns and second in completions. “I was really proud of how hard we worked, and how close we got as a group in the process.
“We set five goals back in the spring, and as a team, accomplished all five. The time and preparation we put into the season paid off; it was a good lesson for all of us to take into college and, eventually, the real world.”
Miller “never would’ve imagined in my wildest dreams” all of the individual accolades he would rack up as the state’s most decorated signal-caller.
“I always wanted to be a varsity quarterback here, obviously, playing for my dad (head coach Matt Miller) after basically growing up at Dodger Stadium,” said Miller, who plans on majoring in kinesiology at GVU before getting a master’s degree in either athletic training or physical therapy. “It never really went beyond that, but after (2017), we were angry about how we finished (4-5 with a number of close losses). We really pushed ourselves to take it to that next level.”
Miller was a natural fit for the football field, but “being a little undersized and kind of a late bloomer at quarterback made me understand that I had to find other ways to stand out.”
“I turned to the things I could control,” said Miller, who has been named to the all-CIML academic list in all four years at FDSH. “I took a great deal of pride in my work ethic, and the amount of time I put into preparing. I took my inner competitiveness and everything I learned from my dad growing up and poured it all into the game.”
Miller called being a Dodger “something that will always be with me.”
“You have the kind of relationships and friendships with (other students) that you typically don’t get as much at the bigger schools in our conference,” said Miller, who is also an all-conference baseball player. “There’s a bond and a togetherness that you don’t see as much anymore. You start to realize, as you get older, just how special it is here.”
Miller saw a similar family-first atmosphere at Grand View, which is led by former FDSH football coach Mike Woodley.
“They’re a winning program that consistently does things the right way, year in and year out,” Miller said. “They contend for national titles, not just because of who they recruit but how they develop players and how they treat each other. I want to be a part of that. It felt like home to me.”
TIMEOUT WITH DRAKE MILLER
Vacation destination: Mexico.
People I would like to have dinner with: Tim Tebow, LeBron James, Derek Jeter.
It would surprise people that I: do everything left-handed other than playing golf.
My sports role model: Tim Tebow.
My everyday role model: my grandpa.
I can’t go a day without: orange juice.
Superstition: always put my right shoe on first.
Most heated rivalry: Ames.
Favorite place to play: Dodger Stadium.
What are you listening to right now? J. Cole and Drake.
Team: Oregon Ducks.
Class: human anatomy.
Movie: The Blind Side.
Book: The Sacred Acre.
Phone App: snapchat.