Why Gamecock transfer tailback Dante Miller is playing with a chip on his shoulder

·3 min read
Sam Wolfe/Special To The State

South Carolina’s backfield got faster over the summer — and a degree smarter.

Graduate running back Dante Miller arrived in Columbia from the homonymous Ivy League school where he led the conference in rushing last season with 838 yards.

Now with the Gamecocks, he joins a crowded running back room littered with returning ball carriers and transfers. The team brought back Juju McDowell and MarShawn Lloyd and added transfers Christian Beal-Smith from Wake Forest and Lovasea Caroll from Georgia.

But Miller said he’s entering the season with a “chip on my shoulder.”

“These are highly recruited guys coming out of high school, highly recruited guys possibly going to the pros soon,” he said. “In order to take my game to the next level, you have to be able to compete with these guys.”

Miller acknowledged the talent difference between Ivy League and SEC players, but his athleticism should carry him well against defenses this season.

South Carolina added nine scholarship players via the transfer portal this offseason. Miller was among a handful of transfers who joined the team as walk-ons and with a little less fanfare.

Miller was a two-sport athlete at Columbia University, running track while playing football. At USC, Miller will focus solely on football.

And there’s an ongoing debate among the Gamecocks regarding the fastest player on the team. Miller feels it’s best to “wait and see” once the season starts, but that doesn’t mean he won’t use his track background to his advantage.

Acceleration boosts help him in the backfield. His first three steps, Miller said, allow him to get past the second line of defense. While at Columbia, he specialized in the 60-meter dash, with a career-best of 6.91 seconds.

“It helps straight-line speed, but playing at this level, you have to have horizontal speed,” Miller said. “So that’s something I work on off the field, and that’s something that I do want to work on with my game.”

Originally from Richmond County, North Carolina, Miller is readjusting to living and competing in the South. In New York, Miller and his teammates sometimes fought through snow in order to practice. They occasionally shoveled snow off the field just to get reps in.

The indoor practice facility at South Carolina — not to mention the drastic weather difference — should help make practice time a bit smoother.

“I just really appreciate what we have here, and I don’t take a moment of it for granted,” he said.

Miller received several Ivy League offers coming out of Richmond Senior High School and visited South Carolina during his original recruiting process. Though he didn’t have an offer from USC at the time, he did have some interest in the school.

After receiving his degree at Columbia, he came back to visit USC once again — this time with the chance at a roster spot.

How he was embraced by the coaching staff was something that stood out to him. He felt respected by Shane Beamer and his staff early on, and it factored into his decision to join the Gamecocks.

“You always want to pay for a program where it’s bigger than football,” Miller said. “I just felt right at home.”