WHEELERSBURG — The orange and black color scheme of Georgetown College (Ky.) won’t be a difficult transition for the Miller family and Wheelersburg senior (Class of ‘21) Matthew Miller.
Miller officially signed to continue his education and join the football program at Georgetown at his signing ceremony in late May — one which took place in the Pirates’ home locker-room inside the famed Ed Miller Stadium.
Although it was undecided whether he would be signing to play collegiate football or basketball entering his senior season at Wheelersburg, Miller said the opportunity to sign at his grandfather’s stadium and continue a family legacy at the next level was ‘special’.
“It’s very special to me. If I was going to sign to play football somewhere, I was going to sign at my Pap’s stadium where he’s meant so much to my community,” Miller said. “I just wanted to give back to him and put a smile on his face anyway I can.”
Matthew will be joining his sister, Libby (Class of ‘19) — a member of the Tigers’ women’s soccer and track and field teams — as a student-athlete at Georgetown.
The familiarity of Georgetown and having the opportunity to make an impact on the Tigers’ football program — as he did on the gridiron at Wheelesburg — are factors that helped guide his decision.
“Being in a family like mine, football is always a big part of our topics and what we love to do. Being able to go to a place like Georgetown, play and represent my family, my community, it’s special,” he said.
Despite missing his junior football season in 2019, Miller made the most of his comeback season last fall.
The senior receiver had 44 catches for 620 yards and brought in nine receiving touchdowns over the Pirates’ 9-game schedule in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the fall season.
Miller was named Division V first team all-Southeast District by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association and Southern Ohio Conference Division II first team during the 2020 season for his impact out-wide.
‘Burg coach Rob Woodward said at the signing that he sees Miller’s best days on the gridiron ahead of him.
“Extremely excited for him because I don’t think he hasn’t even come close to reaching his ceiling in what he’s able to do, as he continues to grow and develop,” Woodward said. “Missed a year his junior year, but came back his senior year and broke out — had a tremendous season and we were able to utilize him in a number of different ways.”
As strong of a campaign as Miller had in football his final season, it went toe-for-toe with his play on the court for the Wheelersburg boys basketball district championship team in ‘20-21.
Miller was named to the SOC II first team, OPSWA Division III Southeast District first team, and was a OPSWA second team all-Ohio guard.
He was also the Division III/IV District 14 Coaches Association North/South game alternate — an honor given to just one player in D-III or IV per district.
He was part of three straight outright SOC II championship teams and won three district championships in four seasons while playing under head coach Steven Ater.
“There’s tradition at Wheelersburg. Any program you play in, you want to do your best to give back to the players that came before you. Wheelersburg basketball, I’ve been apart of the varsity program since my 8th grade year. Coach Ater wanted to give me playing time as soon as possible because I think he saw what the future held,” Miller said. “I appreciate everything Coach (Ater) did for me… Wheelersburg basketball is a brotherhood.”
During his freshman season, Miller was a member of the Pirate football program’s 2017 state championship team that defeated Eastwood 21-14 in overtime for the program’s second state title.
In his four seasons playing for Wheelersburg, the Pirates boasted a 42-8 record.
While success on the field has helped further his game to the next level, Miller said he’ll remember his time as a Pirate football player for all of the lessons learned — including those off the field.
“Wheelersburg football is always going to be close to my heart. You learn so many lessons other than football — you learn life lessons, how to be a man. I’ll carry those lessons, people I’ve met here with me for the rest of my life,” he said.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved