Graduation on Dec. 10 admittedly was a “pretty big” occasion for West Virginia defensive lineman Julian Miller.
The 6-foot, 260-pound senior from Columbus, Ohio, cherishes what his family considers a major accomplishment.
His folks — dad and many others — also should appreciate his vast contributions to the bowl-bound 23rd-ranked Mountaineers’ 9-3 record and Big East championship this year.
Miller has made 183 tackles, including 98 solo stops, and four fumble recoveries during his career. He was tied for fumble recoveries in the Big East and was 19th nationally.
“The Orange Bowl is going to be up there for me, too, because I played in the Fiesta Bowl my redshirt freshman year and that was special,” he recalled.
West Virginia upset No. 3-ranked Oklahoma on Jan. 2, 2008, in Arizona.
Miller continued, “Playing in the Orange Bowl (Jan. 4) is going to be special, too. To be realistic, and looking back to what has happened, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
“I went out, played hard, and represented my school the best I could.
“There’s no more that I could do.”
He had to take just one class this past fall, so Miller didn’t have the academic pressure his teammates had in final exams.
But he worked on parts of his game where needed and also made sure his body was fit for the bowl preparation.
Miller has been among the team’s leading tacklers during his outstanding career.
“I think our defense got better as the season progressed,” Miller said. “It enabled us to play better late in the season, and it showed.”
West Virginia won the last three contests on its schedule. The team capitalized on breaks when those were needed.
Clemson (10-3) won the ACC title game over Virginia Tech. That ended a three-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers will reassemble in Miami this evening after having spent Christmas with family. They have five more practice sessions.
The Clemson team has been in Miami since arriving on Tuesday to complete its preparations.