Prep football | Thor Miller backs up big name with big game for Manatee Hurricanes

Thor Miller is mainstay of Canes' offensive line

jlembo@bradenton.comOctober 18, 2012 

BRADENTON -- When your first name is Thor, it's written in the stars that you play football.

Thor the offensive lineman sounds better than Thor the chess player or Thor the croquet player.

That isn't to say Thor Miller, a starting tackle at Manatee, couldn't or wouldn't do those things.

"I do play video games," he said. "But it's definitely one of those physical, sport-type names."

Football fits, just as Miller, who started all 15 games during Manatee's run to the Class 7A state title last year, fits his role as the lone senior on the offensive line for the 6-0 Hurricanes.

Miller and Manatee head to Venice on Friday for a game that probably will decide the Class 7A-District 10 champion.

"He's the leader of the group," offensive line coach Steve Peebles said.

The origins of Miller's first name dates back to Norse mythology: Thor was a god associated with power and strength, making it a fine choice for a 285-pound football player entrusted with protecting the quarterback.

"I do love the name Thor,"

said Miller, whose mother is Swedish. "Hopefully, it fits in with me."

But this isn't a ground-and-pound Manatee team of the past. Quarterback Cord Sandberg has thrown the ball 126 times this season, an average of 21 attempts per game, which makes the athletic Miller an ideal anchor for the team's line.

"We're passing three times as much as we did 15 years ago," said Peebles, a lineman and captain on Manatee's first state championship team in 1983, "so our tackles have to be very athletic to protect our quarterback. I know in the NFL that's where they put their money guys -- blindside tackles."

Accompanied by myriad expectations heading into this season, the Hurricanes have been good as advertised. They're ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and USA Today and second by ESPN and Rivals.

Yet things haven't been easy for Miller. Two weeks after last year's state final, Miller suffered a detached meniscus in a knee during a wrestling match. He reaggravated the injury when he admittedly came back too soon for spring football.

Just as that was healing, Miller tweaked his ankle at the beginning of this season. But during last week's win over Weston Cypress Bay, Miller said he felt 100 percent for the first time. And it comes at a great time for Manatee, which plays the Indians on Friday and hosts Palmetto next week in what could be a game between two undefeated teams ranked No. 1 in the state in their respective classes.

"He's back at full throttle," Pebbles said, "and it's right when we need him."

Despite his athleticism and experience, Miller stands 6-foot-2, which is why he isn't getting a ton of interest from Division I colleges, Peebles said. Miller said FIU made him an offer but pulled it after the school received three commitments from linemen this spring.

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) sent a coach to Manatee to watch Miller practice, and Illinois State as also shown interest as well, Miller said.

Peebles knows someone will snatch him up. After all, the name Thor Miller would look great in a college program.

And his game is pretty good, too.

"He moves well for a big guy. If he was two inches taller, he'd have numerous Division I offers," Peebles said. "Something will work out for him. ... But he definitely can play Division I football."

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