Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver, 2015 BHS graduate and former Barrington Bronco, Scotty Miller‘s family left town this week to watch Scotty step into his Big Game dreams at Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Scotty’s mom, Kristy Miller says she and her husband and Scotty’s wife will all be there Sunday to watch the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Scotty’s three sisters are also in Tampa and the whole family is hoping they’ll be celebrating a Bucs win on Sunday night.
Kristy says getting to this point has been a lifelong dream and quite a journey for Scotty, who started playing football when he was a 5th grader at Countryside Elementary School. He grew as a player during his days at Prairie Middle School. By the time he got to Barrington High School, it was pretty clear that Scotty’s speed was an asset but, Kristy says it’s just one of the secrets to his success. Here’s a look back at Scotty’s journey to the Super Bowl, in Kristy’s own words…
365: Where did Scotty’s passion for the game begin and what was his football experience like in Barrington?
Kristy Miller: “We love football. We are definitely a huge football family. I met my husband in college. He was on the football team. My dad was a huge football fan. He raised his daughers on football. We always had football parties every year. It’s by far our favorite sport. So to see Scotty come up through the ranks is insane. It’s absolutely crazy. He has always surpassed what people thought he could do.
Scotty started playing football in 5th grade with all of his friends and the Barrington Youth Football League. My husband said he might get burned out if he started too young but I remember Scotty was begging me to play. I couldn’t take it as his mom.”
“My husband and I spent a lot of time at Scotty’s games and all of our closest friends are from youth football and baseball. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Every step of the way was so much fun and Scotty makes it really fun because he’s the best. He’s just always loved it so much. He’s just as good of a winner as he is a loser and he can ‘let it go’ really quick if things don’t go totally his way or the team’s way. He’s just like, ‘We’ve gotta get ’em next time.'”
365: What has it been like for you as his mom to witness Scotty’s success?
“It’s just been great because, if your kid wants to do anything, you want that for them. There were two things Scotty always wanted to do. He wanted to either be an NFL football player or, when he was very young, he wanted to be a knight at Medieval Times so it’s a good thing football worked out!
To see your kid believe in himself, even if nobody else did, and just to watch him work at everything and to see it all playing out, you just couldn’t be happier. You want them to succeed at everything they do but you always want them to also love what they do and that’s how it is for Scotty. He’s always found a way to surpass anything he could dream or imagine was possible so we’re loving every minute of it.”
365: So skill and love of the game are definitely at work here. Where do you think Scotty’s determination comes from?
Kristy Miller: “Scotty was born with and blessed with and is so fortunate that he has the speed piece. And if you have the speed piece you have an advantage and you can succeed. But then being undersized there’s that ‘chip on his shoulder’ mentality that nobody believed in him which just fueled his successes. Scotty always thought, ‘I’m the fastest kid on the field so, if I outrun you and I’m thrown the ball, I’ll catch it’. It’s knowing he is blessed but also knowing, ‘If you’re going to doubt me, I’m going to show you.’ Those two things combined have really made Scotty what he is.”
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365: At 5’9″, 174 pounds today, what role has Scotty’s size played in the course of his career?
Kristy Miller: “Because Scotty was always smaller in size, in high school he thought, could he actually start with 119 other kids playing? Could he start in college at Bowling Green? After his last high school senior playoff game he got a scholarship at the last minute, an offer to Bowling Green.”
“Bowling Green was going to redshirt Scotty his freshman year. Four months into his freshman year they lifted the redshirt and he played as a freshman and their team won the MAC Championship that year. The last three years he was a starter.”
“With the NFL, Scotty did not get invited to the Scouting Combine and he was pretty bummed about that because he couldn’t show his speed and he didn’t think the NFL would find him if he wasn’t at the Combine but there were 20 NFL scouts on his Pro Day at Bowling Green and he ran a really fast time. Tampa Bay kept in contact with him from Pro Day to the beginning of March to the draft at end of April. He wasn’t sure if they were going to draft him or get him as a free agent.”
365: What was it like when you saw Scotty score the touchdown just before halftime during last weekend’s NFC Championship game?
Kristy Miller: “We were in Green Bay for that game, at the very top row of Lambeau Field. My husband just about literally fell out of the bleachers when Scotty got the touchdown and everybody was going crazy. It was absolutely unreal. We could not believe what just happened.
We could tell that Scotty was looking for his wife and for us from the field right after it happened. My husband and Scotty have always had this thing they do. They throw up the ‘X’ gesture to each other with their arms and fists, something they’d seen other NFL guys do. It’s just something they’ve always done at youth football and in high school and in college. My husband always yells out, ‘Let’s Go’ and Scotty yells back. We were so high up at Lambeau and Scotty couldn’t see us but he kind of knew where we were. You could see him looking for us with the ‘X’ fists. We didn’t find him until after the game.”
365: What is Scotty’s mindset this week? How’s he feeling heading into Sunday’s game?
Kristy Miller: “He’s feeling on top of the world. He can’t believe it. The Super Bowl is the culmination of everything you’d possibly want for him, but he is also the calmest kid. He doesn’t get too stressed out and he doesn’t let the moment get bigger than him. He’s thinking, ‘This is just another game and we want to win it.’ He’s very fortunate with the teammates he’s playing with. They’re all like that thinking, ‘This is just another game and we want to be the victors.'”
365: Scotty’s had a lot of teammates over the years, what does he say it’s like to play with the guys in the NFL & with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Kristy Miller: “Tom Brady is an absolute dream come true for Scotty. When he found out this year that Tom Brady was actually coming to the Bucs he was like, ‘No way’. The thing Scotty loves the most about Tom Brady is, not just that he throws him the ball, but Scotty loves to win. He’s never met anybody who wants to win more than Tom Brady. Tom has taught Scotty so much about being a better receiver. ‘Do this extra step’ or ‘Go deep’, their timing, their connection has been great. Tom Brady’s mindset, his mental game is why he’s been to so many Super Bowls. He doesn’t let anything get bigger than this. It’s just a game of football and we want to win.”
“And the other guys? Mike Evans is huge and Scotty has followed him during his college career at Texas A&M. Scotty watches the routes that other receivers ran. Rob Gronkowski came to the team this year and he’s crazy and really makes the game so much fun and keeps it at a very, ‘We’re just playing a game out here’ level. It’s like backyard football. Scotty watches all these guys and he’s always the smallest guy in the room and he’s got to be confident to play with these guys and that’s what they love about him. His teammates, they get along so well, and it’s just great.”
365: What impact would you say Scotty’s Barrington coaches have had on his growth as a player?
Kristy Miller: “Scotty has been super lucky with all of his coaches in Barrington. Coach K has been a huge Scotty supporter and Coach Sanchez is awesome and amazing.
At Barrington High School Coach Todd Kuklinski, Scotty’s track coach, saw his speed on the football field and said, ‘Scotty, you could be doing way more than just playing defense.’ When there are that many guys out there, Scotty just wanted to get on the football field. Coach K said, ‘Scotty you run track and, when they see your speed and the way you catch a ball, you could be doing so much more and we’re going to make it happen.’
Scotty had a misfortune at a state track meet. He pulled his hamstring in the prelim and I think it broke Coach K’s heart as much as it broke Scotty’s. He kept Scotty so mentally positive by saying, ‘This is nothing. This is unfortunate but you’re going to go on to so many big things.’ He believed in Scotty and enjoyed the ride with Scotty and Scotty just loves Coach K.”
Kristy Miller: “What Coach Joe Sanchez brings is, not just everything he’s done for football in Barrington, but he’s just such a great family man. These young boys see Coach Sanchez with his wife and girls and it’s really good for them to see the dynamic of how important family is and what it is to be a good husband and father. Scotty is just a very old school kid. That’s why he got married right away to his college sweetheart. He totally values family and fatherhood and brotherhood and Coach Sanchez preaches that loud and clear.”
Kristy Miller: “The Barrington community has been so great for our family and, to Scotty’s coaches, their job is much bigger than the sport of football or track. It’s wanting to see these guys becoming good young men after everything is done with their sporting life.”
365: By the way, our 365BarringtonTV team covered the last games of Scotty’s senior year season at Barrington High School in the fall of 2014, indlucing the game when Scotty caught the attention of those Bowling Greeen recruiters. We’ll be sharing some of our favorite Scotty soundbites from our past coverage PLUS a look back at Scotty’s days in Barrington from the perspective of Coach K. Stay tuned and GO SCOTTY!