By Matt Pawlikowski
Heath Miller, TE #83
Hometown: Honaker, Virginia
Experience: 8 years
On a team that boasts a receiving corp that is arguably the best in the league and touts themselves as “Young Money,” there is another weapon in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s arsenal–a man dubbed “Big Money”–Heath Miller.
“He’s just a really good football player. His name doesn’t get mentioned a bunch,” Steeler offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “He’s done nothing but show that he is a really good football player. Any time you have a guy like that on your team, you utilize him in every way you can, whether in the run game or pass game.”
Not too shabby for a guy who started his football career as a record setting high school quarterback in Honecker, Virginia before making the transformation to tight end at the University of Virginia.
But should it come as a surprise? Absolutely not. Miller has done nothing but excel since touching the pigskin.
From leading his high school team to the state championship to winning the Mackey award as the nation’s top tight end and helping the Steelers win two Lombardi trophies, winner is the only word that comes to mind.
He holds the ACC record for career receptions (144), yards (1,703) and touchdowns (20) by a tight end and now has the same as Steeler with 352 for 3,993 yards.
Ironically, Miller has made just one Pro Bowl (in 2010 when he replaced Dallas Clark) after having his best season as a Steeler with 76 catches, but you won’t hear him complain. Nope, for Miller, it’s about the team.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to be ‘the guy,’ ” said Miller. “The good thing about this offense is that we’re all capable of making plays. I’m seeing different looks every week, but it’s all just a matter of staying consistent and knowing that if you do that, something’s going to shake out.”
Getting him there again is something that Roethlisberger is hoping to make happen this year.
“We’re trying to get him to the Pro Bowl. He’s deserved it for a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “ Heath is a weapon. Like I’ve always said, he blocks like a lineman and catches like a receiver. If we keep utilizing him it will be big.”
Sunday’s game against the Raiders showed why Miller is one of the most respected players in the Steelers’ lockeroom, and it wasn’t just because he scored two touchdowns. It was because he did so with a rib cage injury that most others in the league would sit out and pamper until they felt better.
“He’s a beast and he fought through some big time pain today and I didn’t even think he was going to play,” Roethlisberger said. “That just shows what kind of teammate he is, what kind of warrior he is and the type of competitor he is. He had a heck of a game.”
There is more to Miller than just football, though. He has a philanthropic side. From working with the Salvation Army to raising funds with their mini golf tournament to the upcoming Bid for Hope IX, Miller is very active in the Pittsburgh area. He and his wife Katie will host at Bossa Nova on Oct. 18 in an event that helps raise awareness, educates the public, increases screenings and treatments and helps with research for the under 40 breast cancer study.
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Matt Pawlikowski is a veteran journalist covering all things Steelers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.