Former Michigan starting center Jack Miller announced earlier this month he was stepping away from the game, forgoing his senior season. On Wednesday he told ESPN he made that decision because of concerns about the long-term effects of concussions.
Instead of pounding helmets with defensive linemen this spring and fall, Miller will be focusing on his degree in political science.
Miller told ESPN he estimates he had two or three concussions during his time at Michigan, though he only reported one.
“I know I’ve had a few and it’s nice walking away before things could’ve gotten worse,” Miller told ESPN. “And yes, multiple schools have reached out. But I’m ready to walk away from it. My health and happiness is more important than a game.”
Miller said he also suffered one concussion in high school, bringing his known career total to as many as four.
A starter in all 12 games last season, Miller was on track to be the first-team center in 2015 under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He admits leaving the game was a tough decision to make, especially considering the nature of the sport.
“I wanted to keep playing,” Miller said. “You’re supposed to be tough in this game, everyone carries that attitude.”
He knows it’s rather unusual for a 21-year-old college student to look beyond the present but told ESPN his passion for the game is “burned out.”
Miller also said he’s not sure he would allow a future son to play the game.
“Football has taught me so much about life, it’s incredible how much I’ve learned from it. That’s why my dad ultimately wanted me to play the game at a young age, then we found out I was good,” he said. “But is it worth the potential injury? Really tough call.”
Last season, under Brady Hoke, Michigan had an in-game scare with then-sophomore quarterback Shane Morris against Minnesota. Morris was already visibly limping when he took a hard shot under the chin. At one point he began leaning on his linemen just to stay upright in the huddle.
An independent athletic trainer will be stationed in the video replay booth at Big Ten games this season. They’ll be looking for players exhibiting signs of a concussion.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.