Miles expands repertoire as outside receiver
By Joe Healey
In 2011, Jamal Miles asserted himself as one of college football’s most diverse all-purpose threats. By the end of the season’s fifth game he had already caught a touchdown pass, thrown a touchdown pass and scored touchdowns on both kickoff and punt returns.
Miles, the only player last year in the Pac-12 to total triple-digits in rushing yards, receiving yards, punt return yards and kickoff returns yards, also ranked 18th in the nation in kickoff return average and 35th in the country in all-purpose yards per game.
Shortly into the 2011 season, ASU faithful became increasingly educated of one simple statement — Miles does it all.
Entering his senior season, the Peoria native has been asked to tweak and refine his game. No longer is he simply a slot receiver, catching passes primarily in the flats. Miles is being utilized at outside receiver with many more vertical route responsibilities than he has had in the past three seasons at ASU.
“It’s been a lesson this whole spring because I’m learning a new position at outside, and I hadn’t really run that many routes before,” said Miles. “(The coaches) have done a great job teaching me to run routes the right way and get out of breaks. “
Though change is not always warmly welcomed by a player entering his final season of eligibility, Miles has embraced the transition.
“I think it’s a good transition for me; it’s something new for me because it’s another position under my belt and shows that I’m versatile,” said Miles. “I have the potential to go wherever (the coaches) need me.”
If the spring’s final scrimmage is any indicator, Miles’ transition should be as quick as his foot speed, as he submitted a banner effort with seven receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns while also running a kickoff back 97 yards for another score.
Throughout the spring as a whole, Miles has shown the maturity and work ethic to embrace a new offensive role.
“I think I did pretty well this spring; I came out more focused than I have been the past few weeks and I was just concentrating on catching the ball,” said Miles. “After that, I just used my natural abilities and did what I had to do. I would say this is the best spring game I’ve ever had as well as the whole spring, I feel like I did pretty well this year.”
With spring ball coming to a close and more than three months until the start of fall camp, Miles has no intention to be complacent, despite the fact that ASU’s other wide receivers combine for one career collegiate start.
Over the remainder of the offseason, Miles plans to refine the technical nuances of his game.
“I put pressure on myself because I believe I am a leader out here, because among these receivers out here I’m really the only one with playing experience,” said Miles. “I’m a senior this year, and I feel like I have to put the team on my back.”