K.J. Miller sets Division III career record in return game, catch the numbers

Published 12:02 am Friday, October 7, 2022

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NCAA Division III football has a new leader in career punt return yardage. And he is a Crusader.

It is none other than former West Orange-Stark standout K.J. Miller.

Miller of Mary-Hardin Baylor broke the previous record of 1,550 yards, set by Muhlenberg’s Joshua Carter in 2001, during the Cru’s 38-7 victory over Austin College on Saturday afternoon. The native of Orange returned two punts for 65 yards in the win, including a 49-yard return just before halftime.

Miller has now totaled 1,585 punt return yards in four seasons with the Crusaders, returning 65 punts over the course of 36 games. His average per return is 23.4 yards, and six of his punt returns have gone for touchdowns, leaving him just one score shy of the program’s career record of seven.

“K.J. is a special guy,” said Crusaders head coach Larry Harmon. “Everybody knows that he is special. His attitude and love for his team is unbelievable. I hope our guys enjoy coaching him, because people like him don’t come around very often.”

Miller recently became the Crusaders’ all-time leader in career receptions and stands now at 167.

As a wide receiver, he is nearing a number of other notable marks. With his fourth receiving touchdown of the season against Austin College, he is eight receiving touchdowns away from the UMHB career record of 29. And his 55 receiving yards on five receptions moved him within 75 yards of third place in that stat category in program history.

Miller earned earned three all-America awards last season as the Crusaders went on to win the National Championship. He was also an all-region and all-conference selection, earning American Southwest Conference Special Teams Player of the Year.

Miller set new program records for single-game receptions (12) and single-season receptions (76) in 2021 and finished with 976 yards receiving. He totaled 25 punt returns for 626 yards and a pair of scores. Miller also added four kickoff returns for 60 yards.

Miller is searching for “One For The Thumb” as he will look to be a part of another Mary-Hardin Baylor Crusaders National Championship squad after getting two national title rings with the NCAA Division III school located in Belton.

Miller will be on a quest as well for a fifth ring after he picked up a pair of Class 4A Division II State Championship rings at WO-S in 2015 and 2016.

The Crusaders won national titles in 2021 and 2018, going a perfect 15-0 in both seasons.

During the 2018 championship season, Miller hauled in 51 catches for 622 yards and five TDs to make he All-ASC Second Team Offense. He brought back three punt returns for scores and averaged 23.8 yards a return.