Boise State senior wide receiver Matt Miller is scheduled to undergo ankle surgery Monday that almost certainly will end his college career, coach Bryan Harsin said Sunday.
Miller has a ligament injury in his left leg that has affected him for much of the season. He was unable to finish the Louisiana and Air Force games and did not play against Nevada.
The goal, Harsin said, is to get Miller ready for the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 17-23) and pro day (usually in March). He’d have to be an “incredible healer” to play this season, Harsin said.
The decision was difficult on Miller, Harsin said.
“He’s going to move on and play football again,” Harsin said. “It was hard. I said, ‘Just do it.’ I said, ‘Get it done, because you’re going to have a chance to play again.’
“He wants to play. He wants to play with his teammates, but it’s not going to happen. He’s not going to be in good enough shape.”
Miller holds the school record for career receptions (244) but is 15 yards short of breaking the career record for receiving yards. Miller has 3,049 yards; Titus Young gained 3,063 yards from 2007 to 2010.
“We probably care about (the record),” Harsin said. “He probably doesn’t.”
Miller confirmed as much after he set the career catches record in September.
“As long as we win, I’m going to be happy,” he said.
Miller also ranks third in career receiving touchdowns (29) and first in single-season receptions (88). He led the nation with a 44-game streak with a catch — every game of his career until he missed the Nevada contest. The Mountain West record is 47.
Miller’s injury is the same as ones sustained by wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes and linebacker Ben Weaver in the past year, Harsin said.
Miller is the offensive captain, selected by a vote of his teammates before the season.
“Matt is a guy who loves playing the game, so to start with him, it probably hurts him the most, (more) than it does anybody else,” Harsin said. “And two, it hurts our football team. He’s a leader, he’s a captain. He’s a guy who’s very productive for us. He won’t be playing for us, but he’ll be helping us. The best thing we can do for him is love him up and get him healthy and then hopefully he has a chance to go onto the next level and get himself prepared for that because quite frankly he’s a guy who can play at that level and he’s proven that and he needs to get himself prepared for that.”
Miller has 28 catches for 461 yards and three touchdowns this season. He averaged 16.5 yards per catch.
“Matt Miller is one of the toughest human beings I’ve ever been around in this game,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. “This whole year, including spring ball, including fall camp and including the first five games he was in for — he would never say anything about it, but I think he was playing well below 100 percent in terms of being healthy. He had some nagging injuries going on. When they had a chance to really go in and look at everything after he did sustain his lower-leg injury, it was a pretty significant injury. He’s just a tough son of a gun.
“I’ve been very impressed with him in every way — just his leadership, his toughness. He’s what you want in terms of a blue-collar leader.”
Other notes as the Broncos prepare for Friday’s home game against Fresno State (6 p.m., ESPN):
— Not much is changed on the depth chart. Sophomore Thomas Sperbeck, who started in Miller’s place at Nevada, is listed as the starter now. True freshman RB/WR Jeremy McNichols is listed as the backup slot receiver.
Against Nevada, Sperbeck made three catches for 51 yards, junior Troy Ware added two catches for 25 yards and nine different players caught passes.
“In Matt’s absence, other guys have stepped up,” Harsin said. “As a competitor and a player, when one of your teammates and a player as productive as Matt goes down, you want to be the next guy that’s going to step in and fill his shoes. Everybody’s elevated their game. The one thing I told the team. It’s not like Thomas Sperbeck has to come in and be Matt Miller. Everybody that has played, including defensive players, they need to step up and play better — not just the one guy replacing him. We’re going to try to be as productive — just do it in a different way.”
— Harsin did not provide any other injury updates.
— Senior cornerback Mercy Maston (leg) still hasn’t played this season. If he doesn’t play this week, Harsin said, he likely will redshirt.
— Miller will travel to the last two road games if the Broncos have room on their 64-man travel roster. He made the Nevada trip. “Throughout the week, Jeremy (McNichols) was right in his hip pocket and Sperbeck and those guys,” Harsin said. “He’s not ever going to pull himself away from something. Coach Miller was getting those guys dialed up for that game and we wanted to have him for that reason. He can’t play, but he can still continue to help his team.”
— Harsin on Friday games: “Fridays are fun because you’re on your own out there (on TV). Saturdays are filled with everybody.” That exclusivity isn’t quite what it used to be, but Friday still provides a spotlight. This week, the only other Friday game is Temple-Houston on ESPNU. Next week, Boise State-BYU (ESPN/ESPN2) goes up against South Florida-Cincinnati (ESPN/ESPN2), Troy-South Alabama (ESPNU) and Oregon-California (Fox Sports 1).
— Quarterback Grant Hedrick said without Miller he reads plays differently. Sanford said that’s because on some plays, Miller and another option are acceptable. Hedrick might take Miller even if the other option was cleaner. “You see Grant now be able to look purely from a distributor standpoint and get the football where he needs to get it,” Sanford said.
— Sanford on Fresno State: “We want to be where they were last year. As far as we’re concerned, they’re the Mountain West conference champions.”
I posted a breakdown of the Mountain West race and today’s college football polls here.
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