A thoughtful Collin Miller said Tuesday he was retiring from football after suffering a spinal concussion against Illinois.
As the calendar closes in on one month since that Nov. 21 day when Miller was taken out of Memorial Stadium on a stretcher, the senior linebacker from Indiana spoke about needing to look at his future while making a difficult decision in the present.
"Looking down the road for my health, I think I probably won't be coming back; I'll probably hang up the cleats for good," Miller said. "And just make sure that I'm able to throw the football with my kid down the road, or drive my own car down the road, or take a shower on my own and feed myself on my own."
A captain and one of Nebraska's most respected players, Miller said his lifelong dream was to play football for as long as he could.
Miller was taken off the field on a stretcher on a hit near the goal line against Illinois and spent the night in a local hospital for observation.
"It was a scary situation against Illinois — very scary. Feelings I've never felt before. I'll remember that day for the rest of my life," Miller said.
Miller, though, quickly returned to the sideline to help NU in practice and has been an active cheerleader for his teammates. He said Tuesday he could see himself getting into the coaching side of the game.
"I've always wanted to do (that) after football … coach and see where that could take me," Miller said. "I love the game of football, I love the environment football brings, and I'm a big competitor."
Miller finished the 2020 season with 27 total tackles and ends his college career with 122 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries.
His time at Nebraska allowed him to realize a big part of what he set out to accomplish.
"I wouldn't say I got it taken away from me. One thing about Nebraska is, they treat you like an NFL team out here. They treat you like a celebrity, so I can kind of say that I played and fulfilled those achievements that I wanted to reach, playing for the great state of Nebraska," Miller said. "It was a fun run."
Targeting rule difficult to navigate: After starting defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt missed the second half against Minnesota after being called for targeting on a hit of Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan, NU defensive coordinator Erik Chinander on Tuesday talked about the difficulties for defenses in trying to remain physical while staying within the rules.
"It's a tough situation. The kid declares himself as a runner. That play — and I'm not arguing calls, I'm not complaining — but that same play happens five or six other times in that same game and the guy wasn't wearing a quarterback jersey," Chinander said. "So when the quarterback gets out and runs, we've just got to be ultra, ultra conscious of taking our head out (of the play)."
The next step, Chinander fears, is a rash of leg injuries to offensive skill players as more and more defensive players try to tackle low to avoid targeting.
"I think you're opening up more issues on player safety than you have already," Chinander said. "Now it's becoming so common to get a targeting foul that there's going to be other player safety issues that are going to come up because of it."
Preparing for the elements: The Nebraska-Rutgers game could be played in brutal conditions, with a major winter storm bearing down on the Northeast and expected to dump up to a foot of snow on the Piscataway, New Jersey, area Wednesday and Thursday
While Friday's forecast calls for sunny weather, the evening temperature is expected to drop to near 10 degrees. It's shaping up to be the roughest weather NU has played in since beating Michigan State in snowy, frigid conditions at the end of Scott Frost's first season in 2018.
NU says it's ready.
"You feel it, but you feel it when it's hot, too. So you still got to play football at the end of the day. You let the cold get to you, then you're thinking about the wrong thing," senior safety Marquel Dismuke said. "You can't let the cold affect your play. You just got to go out there and ball. You've got to be the one to hit first or you're going to feel every bit of it."
— Chris Basnett
Contact the writer at email@example.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.
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