AMES — Iowa State’s leading tackler, Jevohn Miller, absorbed the MRI results, then picked up the phone.
His coach, Paul Rhoads, answered.
Miller, a senior linebacker who started blossoming late last season, had just learned his right ACL was torn and he couldn’t play anymore.
So he began thinking about what he could still do for the rest of the Cyclones (2-6, 0-5 Big 12), who face Kansas (2-6, 0-5) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Lawrence.
“When you talk about what could have been or something, it’s going to always be hard,” Miller, who had 68 tackles this season, before a block near the beginning of Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma caused the season-ending injury. “But then we talked about what I could do from here on. I specifically asked what specifically I can do and what my role can be now.”
His instincts were right. Miller can serve as an extra coach to his former backups, Kane Seeley and Alton Meeks, who both look to see time on the field at MIKE linebacker this week and beyond.
“He was in coach mode today,” Rhoads said. “He called last night and we talked it through and he wanted to know what he can do to help this football team. And with two young linebackers behind him he’s a very valuable asset. He was standing out there on his crutches this afternoon coaching them up. He met with Wally (Burnham) before practice, per usual, just to get a good feel for the game plan so he understood it extra so he could help those guys. That’s pretty special when you think about it.”
Miller hadn’t thought much about the possibility his senior season could truly be over until the MRI results were revealed.
He knew the injury was bad, painful, but held out hope he could heal in time to see the field again in the final month.
“That’s when you can actually start thinking about it,” said Miller, who will see his consecutive starts streak snap at 14. “After the game I didn’t know what was wrong. They had ideas, but we didn’t know for sure.”
Now that they do, he has ideas of his own. His simple advice for Seeley and Meeks?
“Just study and play hard,” Miller said. “They’ve got to get in the film room a lot more then they’ve been because it’s a new role. It kind of shows how quick something can happen and how you can be the next guy in.”