Texas A&M's highest draft pick in years has seen his Aggie legacy grow to legendary status
Von Miller first came to Texas A&M as a highly touted, four-star rated, defensive end recruit out of DeSoto, Texas. He was a standout recruit among a group of mediocre players signed by Dennis Franchione in his final recruiting class at A&M. Miller came in with heavy expectations, as one of the most high profile defensive players that A&M had signed during the Franchione era. However, all did not start well for Von, as he endured the trials of a 7-6 season in his freshman year, followed by a coaching change, and a 4-8 campaign under Mike Sherman in his sophomore year.
At that point in his career, it appeared that Miller would not live up to the hype he had coming out of high school, but would instead join a long line of four-star disappointments for the Aggies. However, something changed for Von, and for the Texas A&M football program as a whole. 2009 was a breakout season for both. Miller was an unstoppable force as a pass rusher on the outside. He terrorized quarterbacks week in and week out as he accumulated an astounding 18 sacks for the season and led the NCAA. He was selected to his first All-Big 12 team and was an All-American. With Miller's help, the Aggies got back on the winning side with a 7-5 record and a trip to the Independence Bowl.
After such a great year, the expectations for the 2010 season were immense, and again, things did not start well for Miller. He was hurt early in the season in a non-conference game against Stephen F. Austin, and the injury lingered for the first six games as Von struggled to be as big of an impact player as he was the year before. But, once again, his spirit could not be put down. In the second half of the 2010 season, Von Miller became one of my favorite Aggie players of all time. Through sheer will and effort, he put the defense on his back and led A&M to thrilling home victories over top-ten ranked Oklahoma and Nebraska.
The Oklahoma game alone, was one of the most astounding performances that I have personally witnessed. Miller struggled with cramps and leg problems for the entire second half, and found himself being helped off of the field several times after the play was over. Each time, I didn't think he had anything left, and each time he was back on the field the very next play. Miller's tenacity inspired the entire team, on both sides of the ball, and worked the Aggie crowd into a deafening frenzy the likes of which has rarely been seen. The Aggie defense summoned the will to stop Oklahoma's powerful offense at the goal line on three critical possessions in the third and fourth quarters. Three times OU had the ball first and goal inside the A&M ten, and three times Miller and the Aggies turn them away with no points.
When the dust settled Texas A&M was the victor, and had pulled off a galvanizing win for a struggling program. I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the temporary bleachers of the south endzone of Kyle Field, and witnessed all three goal line stands directly in front of me. As the team filed into the locker room, the fans around me and throughout the stadium vehemently revived the long absent cheer of "WRECKING CREW, WRECKING CREW!". Those words were formally the nickname of the vaunted Aggie defenses of the 1990's which had since vanished, but now had returned. I stood on the railing only feet from the players as they marched by, thrilled with victory, but nearly too exhausted to celebrate. As I chanted along with the crowd, I saw Von Miller pass by within feet, and he could barely stand, let alone walk by and high five the fans. I had heard the expression, "leave it all on the field", many times before but never had I seen it so vibrantly illustrated. Von Miller was almost literally bleeding Maroon.
Now that Miller has moved on to the NFL, I know he will be a great player and leader for the Denver Broncos, because I have seen it first hand. He is and will continue to be an outstanding representative of Texas A&M University and what they stand for. As his legacy continues to grow in the annals of Aggie lore, I will always be able to say that I was there when the "Wrecking Crew" returned, and it came on the back of outside linebacker #40. In closing I have one last message: Gig 'em Von.