Today is a great day to wish Happy Birthday to a Wolverine named Clay Miller. Miller is unique in that he is one of a very, very few Michigan Men to earn five letters. Miller, a native of Oklahoma, lived in the same neighborhood as Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer. However, he opted to go to Michigan. His grandfather, mother and father were Wolverines. So, the best defensive lineman in the State of Oklahoma in 1980 elected to play for Bo Schembechler and not Barry Switzer. Miller wanted to be the one who made it three generations of Michigan Wolverines in the Miller family and that’s exactly what he did!
As a freshman, Miller was good enough to start three games as a defensive tackle in 1981. However, his season was cut short due to a knee injury. Bo petitioned for another year of eligibility for Miller and it paid off for Michigan and for Clay Miller. When Clay came back in 1982, Bo decided that his Oklahoma prize needed to go to the offensive side of the ball. Miller was good enough to earn plenty of playing time at tackle. He also saw lots of action in the 1983 Rose Bowl. Miller was a starter for the last two and one half years of his career at Michigan which ended in 1985.
Clay Miller played on one championship team (1982), and two very good teams (1981, 1983). The 1984 team was pretty good until key players like Jim Harbaugh suffered season ending injuries. Miller called the 1984 team a “MASH unit” because it had so many injuries. His last year at Michigan (1985) ended on a high note as the Wolverines finished with a record of 10-1-1. The Wolverines finished the season as the second ranked team in the country in both major polls (Associated Press and United Press International).
Clay also left Michigan as a first-team All-Big Ten player. He won the Meyer Morton Award, the Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award and shared the Hugh Rader Award as Michigan’s best lineman with Eric Kattus. Yes, he definitely finished STRONG in 1985!
Clay Miller is also part of some interesting Michigan Football “firsts.” Here they are:
- Clay Miller was on the first Michigan football team to play games against Washington State and Auburn in 1983.
- Miller was also on the first Michigan football team to play in the Sugar Bowl in January 1984.
- Clay Miller was on the first Michigan football team to play games against Miami of Florida and Brigham Young University in 1984.
- Miller was also on the first Michigan football team to play Maryland in September 1985.
Clay Miller’s heart really attracted him to the opportunity at Michigan where the academic and athletic standards are extremely high. He was good enough to start a ton of games at Michigan and smart enough to be a first team Academic All-American in 1985. Clay Miller gave his all as a player and now he continues to give back to Michigan in a unique way. Please take a moment to appreciate Clay Miller’s contributions to Michigan Football. Happy Birthday Clay Miller and Go Blue!
Click the link below to read an excellent article (2011) by Bruce Madej on Miller’s life after Michigan Football.