Originally published May 28, 2013 at 10:01a.m., updated May 28, 2013 at 11:36p.m.

Former KU running back Darrian Miller returning to Jayhawks

Kansas running back Darrian Miller races up the field for a first down against Baylor during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Kivisto Field. The run helped put the Jayhawks in field goal range.

Kansas running back Darrian Miller races up the field for a first down against Baylor during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 at Kivisto Field. The run helped put the Jayhawks in field goal range.


Scribble the name Darrian Miller onto the list of college football players taking advantage of Kansas University coach Charlie Weis’ willingness to provide them with a second chance.

And put down Butler County Community College football coach Troy Morrell on the list of people who believe Miller, who rejoined the Jayhawks on Tuesday a year after Weis dismissed him from the program, will make good on the opportunity.

“There’s no question he matured as a person and as a student while he was here at Butler,” Morrell told the Journal-World on Tuesday afternoon. “I think he has grown up a lot. I think he really just came to the understanding what a team was and how to work within a team. That’s where I saw him grow the most, just as a teammate.”

Miller, a member of the high school Class of 2011, graduated from Blue Springs (Mo.) High early, came to KU in time for spring ball in 2011 and played in 11 games as a true freshman that season. On Tuesday, he signed a grant-in-aid agreement with KU and was welcomed with open arms by the same man who dismissed him following his freshman season.

Throughout his first stint at Kansas, there never was any doubt about Miller’s ability to play at the Big 12 level. The former four-star running back was KU’s second-leading rusher in 2011, finishing with 559 yards and four touchdowns on just 113 carries, and he became known for his big-play ability and relentless running style.

Off-the-field issues, however, proved to be his downfall — at least temporarily. Former KU coach Turner Gill suspended Miller for the final game of the 2011 season for “a violation of team rules” and, less than a month later, newly hired Weis punted him altogether.

Despite the 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back’s questionable departure, which did not involve academics — Miller left KU in good standing and performed well throughout his time at Butler CC — Weis heard enough during a recent sit-down with Miller to believe he deserved the chance to atone for past mistakes. The fact that the Missouri high school all-time rushing leader adds immediate depth and talent to an already loaded backfield and returns with three seasons of eligibility remaining probably did not hurt his chances.

“We constantly research special situations concerning transfer students,” Weis said in a press release. “Each situation is unique. Occasionally, through our due diligence, we find a player who fits. This was the case with both Darrian and (Miami, Ohio wide receiver) Nick (Harwell). We believe both young men are prepared to thrive at Kansas on and off the field.”

Weis is not the only college coach who thinks Miller is ready to make a more complete impression during his second go-around with the Jayhawks.

“He put himself in a good position academically; he felt like KU was a good fit and he wanted the chance to go back and make a new beginning for himself,” said Morrell, who said he only coached Miller this spring, since the former Jayhawk took classes elsewhere last fall and did not play a game for the Grizzlies. “That’s why kids come to this level, to get another opportunity at a Division I program, and we certainly take a lot of pride in getting guys to that level. I’m just happy for his opportunity ,and I think he’ll do good things up there.”

A quick glance at Miller’s Twitter feed Tuesday night indicated Miller did not plan to receive any special treatment upon his return to Lawrence.

“Just another member of this 2013 recruiting class, ready to work for everything I get. That’s all,” Miller wrote. His comments in KU’s official press release backed such claims.

“After talking to coach Weis, we have decided to try to get this right,” Miller said in the release. “Coach Weis is giving me an opportunity to rejoin the Kansas football team with stipulations. ... I made mistakes as a freshman that not only led to my dismissal, but hurt the Kansas football team. I regret this happened, but I have learned a great life lesson during this ordeal.”

Miller continued: “Coach Weis has given me a rare opportunity. I am truly thankful and I intend to make the most of it. My only goal now is to help coach Weis return Kansas football to respectability.”


squawkhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, outstanding! I think someone is starting to see the writing on the wall and is getting desperate. I'm about as excited about this as I am about Dayne Crist being the next savior of KU football. Gotta give Charlie credit for trying though.

Joseph Kuebel 9 years, 4 months ago

3 is back. I am very excited to see what kind of formations we use, and if we will use a 3 RB set with Pierson as a downfield option and Miller as another option in the flat... this is great news. My favorite Jayhawk from 2011 is back!! JameSims, Bourbon, Miller, (and Pierson) - I'll drink to that!

Micky Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

Let go of the Dayne Crist crap. He's gone now.

jhox 9 years, 4 months ago

Miller is very talented, but we were already stacked at that position. I hope htis doesn't cost Cox more carries.

jaydee909 9 years, 4 months ago

Huge news! Miller is a special talent at rb. Very difficult to bring down and has good burst of speed.

Bobby Burch 9 years, 4 months ago

Why yes, Kansas does have the most explosive backfield in the Big 12. Rock Chalk!

squawkhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately they won't have a line to block for them I'm not getting too excited until I see some major progress at the OL positions.

Micky Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, and the world is going to end tomorrow.

Dan Pawlowski 9 years, 4 months ago

The word is squawkhawk is a K-State troll.

Tom Keegan 9 years, 4 months ago

I say keep Spencer right where he is. He's a perfect backup to Tony Pierson, much more a Pierson type than a Miller type. As for moving a running back, maybe Brandon Bourbon could ... just kidding. I've given up on the idea of moving Bourbon to linebacker after suggesting it a few hundred times.

Matt Tait 9 years, 4 months ago

Haha!!! One more "Bourbon-to-LB" comment for the road from Keegan!

I, too, doubt anybody moves, but I wouldn't be surprised if somebody red-shirted. Perhaps Taylor Cox, who would be a very nice, veteran piece to bring back in 2014 if he did in fact sit out this season.

We'll see. Nice to have tons of options, though.

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

That’s because it’s never, ever, ever happened. ;-)

jhox 9 years, 4 months ago

I like the idea of Cox redshirting. Seems a shame to waste his talent sitting on the bench and getting only 3 or 4 carries per game. I really believe he has NFL potential, but only if he gets the ball and gets a chance to prove what he can do. Sims is great, and I'm not convinced he's better than Cox.

KGphoto 9 years, 4 months ago

Weis doesn’t list a FB. He has an “H” back, an “F” back and a TE. Sims, Cox and Bourbon are all listed as “H”. Pierson and Spencer are listed as “F” on the depth chart, which seems to be a RB with lots of receiving duties.

On the roster Pierson and Spencer are listed as H/F. Some of the guys who used to be fullbacks are no listed as TE’s or H’s. Ed Fink, for example is now a TE. So I’m guessing the TE position is going to absorb much of the FBs duties. Trent Smiley is a good example from last year.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

Tom, I respect your opinion, but I don't agree with it. Brandon Bourbon has proven to be very injury prone and LB is one of the few positions where there is more contact than RB. Bourbon would last maybe 2 games as an LB before he got hurt again.

Tom Keegan 9 years, 4 months ago

I actually was joking about moving Bourbon to linebacker ... this time. I've come around to your way of thinking on that topic. He's a running back and maybe a kick returner.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

TK & Matt - Wasn't Bourbon being used as an up-back/FB last year? That is exciting to me. To have so much depth at RB that you move a 4* guy with 4.4 speed into a power position. What an amazing lead blocker to have out in front of the ball and moving downfield, and even better is to think of him on a surprise handoff or coming out of the backfield against a slow LB after the other RB's draw out the fast ones.

Tom Keegan 9 years, 4 months ago

Yes, that is correct. Bourbon was being used as a fullback. They can do so many things with all the talent they have in the backfield. Pretty exciting stuff.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 4 months ago

Yes! His closing speed is awesome. We need some real studs in the secondary and he would be one. We have plenty of real good running backs. The video I saw of him playing D showed someone who really had a nose for the ball, flew to the ball and could run down receivers.

Kip_McSmithers 9 years, 4 months ago

According to the article he is rejoining the team as a red-shirt sophomore.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

Once Miller got adjusted to the speed of the college game, he was KU's best back in 2011. KU's going to have not only the best backfield in the Big 12, but they're going to have one of the best backfield's in the nation with the addition of Miller.

BringBackMark 9 years, 4 months ago

Good thing Butler CC was there to develop his player.... Maybe Keaston Terry has repented and we can get him back too. Or maybe we were just short another juco transfer. It appears that Weis's way of developing a team is just to kick everyone off that he doesn't like rather than deal with issues. Then if they go seek help somewhere else he's willing to take them back.

I'm extremely excited to see Darian back at KU. Now if we can just develop an offense to utilize these guys we'll be in good shape.

Joe Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm anxious to see how Heaps steps in after sitting out. I expect some adjustments, but Heaps should know this team as a 2nd yr player. He's had the opp to learn, study, develop and take practice reps during Crist's short time at KU.

I expect great things from Heaps. He is living up to most expectations to this point. I anticipate he'll do great things with his arsenal. The O-line must protect him or they will be helping him off the turf all season. We should at least win the games we lost last year. We should see some huge improvements and this squad should be starving.

Ron Prichard 9 years, 4 months ago

"We should at least win the games we lost last year."

That would put us at 11-1, at a minimum, right?

I think I know what you meant, but I couldn't resist.

Joe Ross 9 years, 4 months ago

No, raprichard. That would actually put us at 12-0.

I think I know what you meant, but I couldn't resist.

johnsont1 9 years, 4 months ago

By saying we should 'at least' win the games we lost doesn't account for the game we won, so at minimum it would be 11-1. Raprichard is correct.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

Matt, this being a fairly unique case, released as a freshman to a non -division one program, eligible to return after a year, etc. it might be helpful to specify for us dummies [me leading the way, of course!! ], just how many years of eligibility does Darrian have....two??, three??....thanks for your help.

PS Oh yes, this IS great news..what's even better is his acceptance of full accountability and his obvious dedication to make this second chance GOLDEN!!!!

Ryan Woods 9 years, 4 months ago

According to ESPN, he did not play last year at Butler. He will come in as a Redshirt Sophomore and have three years of eligibility.

Tim Orel 9 years, 4 months ago

I don't think it would make a difference if he played at Butler or not. It wasn't a Division I school, so I'd think, as you put it, it's the equivalent of a year away, whether as a Redshirt or even just not as a player.

Brad Farha 9 years, 4 months ago

I think it would make a difference if he played or not. Student athletes who come to us after 2 years at JUCO only have 2 years of eligibility remaining.

Matt Tait 9 years, 4 months ago

It definitely would have. Since he did not play, it was just like he sat out the season, whether he was here, there or Alabama.

It's all about that whole eligibility clock that starts ticking when a player arrives on campus at his first stop.

That said, Miller played in Year 1 (2011, freshman) sat out in Year 2 (2012, red-shirt year) and will play as a third-year sophomore in Year 3 (2013). That gives him three years of eligibility remaining.

qringer 9 years, 4 months ago

Why didn't he even get in a single game last year? injury?

Chris1955 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm really beginning to look forward to KU football this year. Coach Weis is a man on a mission, and I'm glad that he is.

Dyrk Dugan 9 years, 4 months ago

awesome news! Darrian is a darn good football player....and i was surprised to see he was one of those that had to be let go before.

but if HCCW says he's ready to come back, he's ready to come back. we'll need him for sure in this is terrific. welcome back Mr. Miller!

Jason Spangler 9 years, 4 months ago

Good idea with the red shirt on Cox this year Tait. He def has the size to carry the load next year otherwise we'll be pretty thin.

Either that or I could see Pierson playing a lot in the slot this year and bouncing back inside next year for more "carries". Lots of options here.


RB- James Sims (Sr.) Darrian Miller (Sr.) Taylor Cox (Sr.) (RS) Brandon Bourbon (Jr.)

Slot- Tony Pierson (Jr.) Colin Spencer (Fr.)


RB- Taylor Cox (Sr.) Brandon Bourbon (Sr.) Traevohn Wrench (Fr.)

Slot- Tony Pierson (Sr.) Colin Spencer (So.)

Chris Bailey 9 years, 4 months ago

So Miller goes from #2 in 2013 to not in the lineup in 2014?

Doug Roberts 9 years, 4 months ago

Ahperse must be in the bathroom so I'll say it: Charlie don't play!

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 4 months ago

Child support hearing...but I'm her now. Thanks for looking out!

Phoghorn 9 years, 4 months ago

I know that was a typo, but it makes me think you just got back from Trinidad, CO.

With apologies to Jaybate - all fiction, no malice.

Jason Spangler 9 years, 4 months ago

Actually forget what I I just typed. Miller will only be a (RS) Soph! That's great news

Ron Prichard 9 years, 4 months ago

I should have read to the end before I commented. So, forget what I typed!

Chris Bailey 9 years, 4 months ago

Yeah me too. I wasn't sure what you were doing. Now I see. He's a soph. redshirt so yeah great news.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the answer, everyone..three years eligibilty, available to play immediately. It's kind of like he went on a missionary trip overseas for a year.

One more question,please...... does this past year off count as a red shirt or does he still have a formal "red shirt" year option?? Not that I am advocating that...just curious. Thanks!!

Chris Bailey 9 years, 4 months ago

He redshirted last year! 3 years to play 3. He's a redshirt soph.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

Of course..the three years still remaining...thanks..sorry I'm a little slow on the up take today!! :)

Jack Jones 9 years, 4 months ago

Or, saying it another way ~ "Down low on the uptake" :):)

Seth Nesmith 9 years, 4 months ago

The season after next this team will be contending for the Big XII.

Gary Wirsig 9 years, 4 months ago

At this point I'll be happy just to beat K-State. Of course that means we'd probably beat a whole lot of other teams too!

CentralKjhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Speed is great, however, it won't do much if we can't replace the O-line that we had last year!

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

The big uglies are the place of greatest concern at this point IMO. Does CW have another rabbit in that hat of his?

Al Martin 9 years, 4 months ago

This makes me happy; it's just all around great. It's great for the team, and it's great for the kid. He got his act together, and is being rewarded. Terrific news.

David Harrison 9 years, 4 months ago

What about using this guy in the passing game? Lets give Heaps another weapon! If I remember right Miller was about 6 foot tall. His speed should allow him to get some seperation. Put him in the slot and use him like a Wes Welker.

Chris Bruning 9 years, 4 months ago

YES!!! He's got rare balance and is fun to watch.

JayHok 9 years, 4 months ago

New wrinkle. Double slots. Pierson at one slot. Send him on a five yard buttonhook. That should hold two linebackers at bay. Miller at the other. Send him on a ten yard button hook away from the linebackers. Harwell at one wideout. Send him full sprint deep. McKay at the other. Send him straight down the other sideline deep. Line up Bourbon as a tackle eligible. Send him on a quick cross away from the linebackers to pull in a cornerback or safety. Line up Taylor Cox at the tight end. Send him deep up the middle. Put Heaps in a shotgun 8 yards deep. Put Sims a couple yards in front of him to either temporarily block the rush or fake-block a few yards up stream for an emergency catch and dash due to the safety and corners already deep in man chasing three flying Jayhawks.

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

I would love to see Weis use Sims, Pierson, and Miller in the inverted wishbone he ran with Cummings a few times last year. Put Christian Matthews in as a wildcat QB and run options out of that formation. That would be an opposing DC's nightmare because there's so many options that can be done out of that formation.

JayHok 9 years, 4 months ago

Put Mattews as your QB and Heaps a couple yards in front as a blocker. After the snap Heaps drops back a couple yards as another option. If he pitches back to Heaps after running down the line for a second, multiple receivers would be open all over the field. The defensive end choices would be interesting to watch. Once Matthews pitches back to Heaps and runs a quick out, there are six very fast receivers all over the field covered by two fast cornerbacks, two heavy footed linebackers and a fast safety. What do the D ends do lol

Eric Williams 9 years, 4 months ago

Put Miller in at Center and run the Annexation of Puerto Rico...

David Leathers 9 years, 4 months ago

I don't know if I'm allowed to dish these out, but.... PHOF!!

soapisurfriend 9 years, 4 months ago

Fake 23 Blast with a backside George reverse. Like your like depended on it!

ccarp 9 years, 4 months ago

Great news! I was sad to see him go, glad to have him back.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 4 months ago

Aw.....c'mon man, what purpose does that kind of response serve?

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 4 months ago

this is good news for KU football! And I'm surprised not to see all of the boo-birds who complained so long and tirelessly about damaging KU Football's image last week after Weis added that receiver from Miami (Ohio).

texashawk10 9 years, 4 months ago

It was only 2 posters that complained about it. It just seemed like more because baypark made what seemed like 50 posts about why KU shouldn't have anybody who's ever done anything wrong on their team because it makes KU look like the worst run school ever.

Bryce Landon 9 years, 4 months ago

Welcome back, Darrian! Hopefully things will be better this year than last year.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 4 months ago

Welcome back Darrian you'll notice we added a few things since Derp Gill left. Puke buckets in the weight room, a classroom and study hall attendance requirement, cuss words, cell phones, and chicks past 10pm. Have fun!

Phoghorn 9 years, 4 months ago

Are you taking any Liberty with this comment? :-)

741hawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Chicks past 10 p.m. LOL!

Like Darrian's closing . . . "Rock Chalk" I recall Wilt closing his honoree speech with an appropriate "Rock Chalk." I encourage all Jayhawks to close conversations written and verbal) with our unique, fraternity/club salute. (Plus, it drives the Slavers nuts!) Rock Chalk!

JayHok 9 years, 4 months ago

The last public thing said by the greatest basketball player to ever play basketball. "Rock-Chalk Jayhawk." A lot of tears shed that day in the Fieldhouse.

Micky Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

It's a good thing that Weis is giving some players a chance at redemption for off the field issues, and Weis is clearly putting an emphasis upon discipline, a quality that was lacking under Gill.

Hawk8086 9 years, 4 months ago

Great news. Miller is very talented and has demonstrated that fact. In general, it is good to see a young man given a 2nd chance. I have confidence in Weiss and, therefore, assume that he made the right decision. Difficult to really have an opinion, though, unless you know what the issues were.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

Except that Darrian admitted he made the mistakes that caused him to be let go. It was definitely the "right decision".

"There is a right way and a wrong way. We are going to do things the right way."

Micky Baker 9 years, 4 months ago

Weis made a comment about how the team had divided into groups after the departure of Mangino. He might have been a part of the group that was dismissed. Who knows really, but I'd suspect that it was a group thing that they did, like maybe shop lifting or something like that.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

So the next question is, "Do Tony and Darrian race for the rights to wear #3?"

Tom Keegan 9 years, 4 months ago

Pierson was No. 23 his freshman year, but after Miller's departure freed up the number, Pierson switched to No. 3. Tony Pierson doesn't lose a race to anybody on this team, so if they race for it, Tony keeps No. 3.

Tim Chappell 9 years, 4 months ago

Darrian has been working hard since leaving KU. He has matured a lot and I am excited for him and KU.

JayHok 9 years, 4 months ago

After a night to rest on it I'm still going with the double slot with Matthews deep in shotgun position at the QB and Heaps at the RB. During Pete Carol's time, USC wouldn't hold athletes off the field that would cause nightmarish matchups for the opposing defense. Why should KU. Even the best opposing defense would have three men tops that could cover McKay, Harwell, Pierson, Miller, Mathews, Cox, Bourbon on pass routes. But could they cover them all at once. With a spread field and a pitch back to Heaps two or three of our players would be wide open. If the D coordinator wants to blitz five or six, Mathews throws it to one of two players who ran the short 5 yard hook. While we're having wild thoughts here, if a center can be also eligible to catch a pass why not add Sims to the mix. Put Sims at center for a snap. Shotgun no matter whose at center. Our problem last year was a lack of open targets. Let's fix that in grand fashion. RCJ

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