Kevin Miller, IWU football teammates have chip on shoulder this season

Summer training has Miller, Titans ready to atone for tough finish in 2012

DARIEN – Kevin Miller has found plenty to keep him busy this summer.

Interning at Catamaran Corporation in Lisle has filled the schedule, as have a plethora of football-related activities.

“I helped coach the freshman football camp at Hinsdale South, and I’ve been working out and running five times a week,” said Miller, who is heading into his senior season with Illinois Wesleyan University’s football team. “I’ve been working hard to get ready for the season.”

After winning their first six games of the 2012 season, including four by 30 points or more, the Titans lost four straight in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin to end the year. That ending is something that still stings for Miller and his IWU teammates as they get set to start the 2013 campaign.

“We had a bad finish to the season, and that left a bad taste in our mouths,” Miller said. “When we were working out during second semester, it was definitely on our minds. It’s a big-time motivator for us to get back on the field and win some games.”

The Titans are in prime position to atone for last season.

Miller said the team’s greatest asset is the senior leadership provided by the largest senior class IWU football has ever had. The team’s top five rushers, top three passers and six of the top-10 receivers from last year, including Miller, are slated to return this fall.

The wealth of experience will help the Titans, and the fact they feel a little slighted by the D3football.com preseason rankings only adds fuel to the fire.

“We have a lot of seniors and juniors that have played before, so our experience and our age should help us,” Miller said. “As a team, I think we’ve got a little chip on our shoulder because we got left off the preseason rankings. We think we can be the best team in the conference.”

Three of the Titans’ final four games last season were on the road, including at Wheaton College, North Central College and Elmhurst College. This fall, IWU will welcome those three teams to Bloomington in the season’s final month, bypassing some of the toughest places to play in the conference.

“I’d say both the toughest team and toughest stadium to play in is North Central College,” Miller said. “Since I’ve been here, they’ve been pretty good.”

On a personal level, Miller is looking to fill a larger role within the receiving corps and be a team leader as the Titans look to leapfrog Augustana and 2012 CCIW tri-champs Wheaton, Elmhurst and North Central to the top of the standings.

“I think I’m in a position where I am going to have the chance to be on the field a lot,” Miller said. “I worked hard last season and in spring ball, and I think I can contend for a bigger spot this year.”