Temple's Deon Miller ready to make his presence felt

Temple's Deon Miller (left) is tackled by Penn State's Michael Mauti last September. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Temple's Deon Miller (left) is tackled by Penn State's Michael Mauti last September. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 11, 2013

For Temple senior wide receiver Deon Miller, now is the time.

"I really want to contribute in a big way this year," Miller said after practice on Thursday. "No more stops and starts. I'm really looking forward to this season in a big way."

Temple, which will hold its first intrasquad scrimmage Saturday morning in preparation for its Aug. 31 season opener at Notre Dame, has been waiting patiently for Miller. Ever since the 6-foot-5, 210-pound receiver landed on Temple's campus in 2010, the Owls have had visions of Miller blazing downfield and stretching out his lengthy frame to gather in balls that were simply out of the reach of shorter defenders.

But the Owls have been a run-first team during those three seasons, so there was no way to showcase him. Additionally, Miller has always seemed to be fighting nagging injuries that have diminished his production.

Last season was no different when, after a decent sophomore season in which Miller started eight games and caught 18 passes for 253 yards and three TDs, a viral infection prevented him from starting until the third game of the season.

Miller never found his rhythm and finished the season with just seven catches for 101 yards.

"Last season was tough because of the infection," said Miller, one of just five true freshmen to play in 2010. "You have these expectations for yourself and your team. When they don't happen, it annoys you."

Miller hasn't practiced the last couple days because of cramping, which is, according to coach Matt Rhule, a hydration issue and probably not an indicator of something else. Rhule expects Miller to be one of his starting wideouts alongside Jalen Fitzpatrick.

Miller might participate in Saturday's scrimmage. This, however, is irrelevant to Rhule. He wants Miller out there - good and healthy - when the games matter.

"He has showed us that he's big, he's strong, he's powerful," Rhule said. "But he's just never been able to be healthy for a full year. Unfortunately, he's backed up with some dehydration issues. But hopefully, we'll be able to get him back and going out there for us, because he's a big target.

"With him," Rhule continued, "your quarterback has the luxury of being able to put the ball in certain places where only he can get it."

Rhule wants his receivers to get as many reps with the quarterbacks as possible, whether they are with Connor Reilly, who sits atop the depth chart; Clinton Granger; or freshman P.J. Walker.

This is not lost on Miller.

"That's the most important thing right now, getting the reps," he said. "I know what it's like not to get them."

Contact John N. Mitchell at  jmitchell@philly.com. Follow @JmitchInquirer

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