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Most Crucial Jayhawks 2016: No. 18 - S Tyrone Miller

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Today's stop on the Most Crucial Jayhawks list takes us back to the secondary, where a cornerback-turned-safety who received some valuable experience as a true freshman comes in at No. 18.

After breaking into the starting lineup during his first season as a Jayhawk because of his raw ability, Miller spent the offseason fine-tuning his game, working on his body and reconnecting with the finer points at safety.

Now, with preseason camp a little more than a month away, he's staring at an opportunity to start again, this time at a more familiar position.

Reminder: This is not a list of the 25 best players on this year's team. That would be much easier to pinpoint and, while still key, would not exactly demonstrate the full value that each player has in regard to the 2016 season.

This is a list of the 25 players who need to have strong seasons in order for the Jayhawks to have a chance to compete.

Matt Tait and I came up with the list by each making our own list of 25 and then combining the results. We did the same thing for the last two years, but the amount of fresh faces made this list much tougher to put together.

Track the list every weekday at KUsports.com, where we'll unveil the list one-by-one in reverse order. And, in case you miss some, be sure to check the links at the bottom of each entry for an up-to-date look at the list of 25.

Kansas cornerback Tyrone Miller Jr. (19) celebrates a Jayhawk recovery of a Memphis fumble during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas cornerback Tyrone Miller Jr. (19) celebrates a Jayhawk recovery of a Memphis fumble during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

18. Tyrone Miller, Soph. Safety

Some football players just have a nose for the ball. They take direct paths to make tackles. They get their finger tips on passes for deflections. They poke at the football to jar it loose and at other times jump on the loose ball for fumble recoveries. They bring more value to a defense than their measurables might forecast.

Tyrone Miller, sophomore safety out of Ann Arbor, Mich., showed that knack from the first game of his college football career as a true freshman.

A natural safety who didn’t play cornerback until his senior season in high school, Miller was pressed into starting duty the first seven games of the 0-12 2015 season.

“I love free safety,” Miller said. “I was always comfortable there. That’s where I started off at. I like that I can see everything and I can make plays everywhere when I need to.”

Miller said he will be a better safety for having played cornerback last season.

“It helped with my hips and my footwork and my eyes,” he said. “I worked a lot on my eye discipline last year. Now that I worked on that, now it’s fine.”

Miller said he would like to play at 190 to 195 pounds this coming year.

Miller said he likes to hit and likes the “little dinging sound that it makes in my helmet when I hit somebody.”

Asked to name what players on the defense have improved the most, Miller said, “Everyone has. Not to be vague, but everyone has improved a lot. Myself, Dorance (Armstrong), D.J. (Williams), Daniel Wise and Shaq Richmond, he’s a free safety this year also."

Asked to name the best dancer on the team, wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez did not hesitate and answered, “Tyrone Miller."

Top 25 Most Crucial Jayhawks of 2016:

No. 25 - OL Jayson Rhodes

No. 24 - CB Kyle Mayberry

No. 23 - OL Joe Gibson

No. 22 - WR Steven Sims, Jr.

No. 21 - DE Anthony Olobia

No. 20 - RB Denzell Evans

No. 19 - DE Damani Mosby

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