Reinhardt University’s athletic director announces today that James Miller has been selected as the new head coach of the football program. The announcement was made Friday afternoon at the J. Thomas and Bettye Jo Isherwood Fieldhouse on the campus of Reinhardt University in Waleska.
“We wanted to have continuity with our program, and we feel that James Miller is the perfect person to provide that continuity,” said Popp. “He is a hard worker that has a great vision for our program, and we believe he will keep our program moving in a positive manner.”
“I’ve been here three years, and I feel that this is a very special place,” Miller said. “I look forward to continuing to mold boys into men of character. Academically and athletically, I really feel we have something special. It’s an honor that [Reinhardt President] Dr. Kina Mallard, the Reinhardt Board of Trustees and Bill Popp have decided to place me in charge.”
A former football player at Virginia Tech, Miller has been with Reinhardt since 2014. Prior to being named head coach, Miller served as the program’s recruiting coordinator, in addition to being the assistant coach in charge of the offensive line.
“This is going to be a challenge,” Miller said. “I’m following a guy [in former head coach Drew Cronic] that went 22-3. We’ve lost some significant players this past season’s team, but we’ve got a lot of players in our program that people haven’t have a chance to hear about yet. I think the biggest thing we’ve got to do right now is get out on the road and get in front of kids. We have to recruit our tails off to ensure that our success continues.”
As a collegiate player, Miller was a standout offensive lineman for Virginia Tech, playing in 46 games with 21 starts. The Hokies went to four straight bowl games and compiled a 36-16 record while Miller was on the team. But it was not always an easy road at VT for Miller.
“To be honest with you, I had my ups and downs,” Miller said. “I started some games my sophomore year, and I lost my job. Started some games my junior year as a spot starter. Then in my senior year, I really earned my place as a starter. I had my trials and tribulations as a player, and I think that’s where I can connect to these kids that are struggling sometimes.
“It’s not always going to go your way,” Miller continued. “Quitting is the easy way out. If you can stick through those hard times, it will make you a better person in the end.”
In 2016, Miller’s offensive line helped the Eagles’ offense gain 550.6 yards per game, the second-best total in NAIA, and 360 rushing yards per contest, the best in the country. Miller’s offensive line allowed a combined 10 sacks all season. Miller also had four linemen earn Mid-South Conference West Division All-Conference honors (Xavier Carter, Jesse Dyer, Scooter Williams, and Tre Coney) and one NAIA First Team All-American (Carter).
In 2015, Miller’s offensive line, led by four all-conference performers (Sherrod Mitchell, Joe Cannon, Brandon Cheatham and Carter), helped RU gain 568 yards per game to finish second-best in the country. The offensive line only allowed three sacks on the season, the fewest in the country.
Miller’s offensive line was solid for Reinhardt in 2014, opening holes for the running game to average 294 yards per contest, while also allowing an NAIA-low six sacks on the season. Miller coached four more all-conference players (Nick Lawson, Clay Swint, Mitchell and Cannon). He also helped to prepare all of the scouting reports for runs against various defensive fronts.
Miller started his coaching career at his high school alma mater, Ft. Lauderdale High School, where he was the program’s running game coordinator in 2005. After three months as an assistant to the athletic director at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Miller returned to Virginia Tech to complete his master’s degree while working as a graduate assistant with the Hokies. His work with the offensive line helped the Hokies to the 2006 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the 2008 Orange Bowl, with VT winning the ACC title in 2007.
Miller went back to UNC Pembroke in 2008, where he was the defensive line coach through 2013. The team ranked in the Top 20 in NCAA Division II in scoring defense from 2008-10, with the defensive line recording 226 tackles for a loss and 106 sacks. While there, Miller served under head coach Pete Shinnick, whom he credits as an influence on his coaching style.
“Coach Shinnick was one of the most organized people that I’ve ever met,” Miller said. “I learned from him you have to be as efficient as possible and allow people to have their families involved. You have to be able to work so that you don’t have to be in the building from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day. You can go home and be with your family.”
For one season, Miller was the running game coordinator and offensive line coach at Clark Atlanta University. The team averaged 208 yards per game running the ball in 2013, a 40-yard improvement over 2012.
James is married to Lauren Jones Miller and they have a son, Keegan Matthew Miller.