Iowa junior safety Tanner Miller grew up near Lincoln, Neb.
His father, Brian, and uncle, Kevin, both played for the Cornhuskers.
“That whole side of the family bleeds red since my dad and uncle played there,” Tanner Miller said. “It has swayed a little bit ever since I came to Iowa.
“They root for Nebraska every other week. It’s all about Iowa this week.”
Brian Miller said there will be about 18 members of the Miller clan in the stands today at Kinnick Stadium.
“We are all going to be in black and gold,” Brian Miller said. “My family has been Huskers fans, and are still Husker fans.
“Knocking off Nebraska would be nice,” Brian Miller said. “An Iowa victory is the first thing on our mind.”
Tanner moved to the Iowa City area when he was about 7. Up until then, he was eyeball deep in Cornhusker lore and tradition.
“Superior, Neb., was about 45 minutes from Lincoln,” Brian Miller said. “In that state, not a whole lot else going on Saturday afternoons. You were either a Husker fan, or you didn’t like sports.”
Tanner got the chance to go to games at Memorial Stadium and to hear the stories about Husker football from his dad and uncle.
“I’ve heard every story he has to tell,” Tanner said. “The bowl games they went to.”
Brian went to a couple Fiesta Bowls, an Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl with the Huskers, which were then led by Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne.
“Moving to Iowa, if you told me then I was going to be a Hawkeye fan, I would’ve argued with you,” Brian said. “This family are pretty staunch Hawkeye supporters.”
Tanner had verbally committed to Northern Iowa but took recruiting visits to Nebraska and Iowa in his senior year.
It was a fun trip to Lincoln, checking out the facilities of the team he grew up idolizing and that his dad played for.
“It was awesome,’ Miller said. “It had always been my dream to take tours of the locker room, practice facility. I had only sat in the stands during the games. It was fun for me.”
Both teams originally offered Miller a chance to walk on, but it was Iowa that extended him a scholarship.
The Miller family hasn’t looked back since.
“It’s all about Iowa now with me playing,” Tanner said. “This week, and only this week, they’ll all be black and gold.”
Tanner Miller has started 22 games in a row for the Hawkeyes, taking the free safety spot over his freshman season.
This season he is fifth on the team with 41 tackles, and he also has one interception and one forced fumble.
He also has become a lightning rod for the frustration of fans with the Iowa defense, which has given up 482.6 yards per game during the five-game losing streak.
Some of the Tweets about Miller last week included:
“I don’t know why Tanner miller is starting, or even on the team for that matter.”
“Tanner Miller just showed off the new Nike cement cleats.”
“Tanner Miller is the worst safety in American. #GetHimOUT”
Tanner Miller said he doesn’t read that stuff about himself.
“When things aren’t going well, you keep your circle small,” Tanner said. “You focus on getting ready for this week.
“Whatever happens on the field, it’s there for everyone to see. There’s a lot that goes into it. You can’t get into that stuff, it can get into your head.”
Brian said he’s seen a little bit of the criticism, but dismisses most of it.
“People on blogs, all that stuff,’ Brian said. “It’s a social media society. I don’t put a whole lot of stock into it. I don’t think they’ve seen practice. They don’t know how hard they work. They are not in the box on defensive calls.
“The Big Ten is tough. You have to play your top game every down. A mistake here or there, it shows up. He’s a hero on one play and can be a loser one player after.”
Brian knows Iowa not making a bowl game this season really hit Tanner hard.
“He’s disappointed. He feels that he’s let some people down. They are working hard every week,” Brian said. “I think they’ll come out and give great effort (today).”
Reach Ryan Suchomel at email@example.com or 339-7368.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football