Former West Orange-Stark standout named Special Teams Player of the Year in Southwest Conference

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, November 23, 2022

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It has been another banner season for former West Orange-Stark standout K.J. Miller as he wraps up his senior year as a receiver and special teams sensation at Mary-Hardin Baylor.

Miller has racked up numerous honors for the Crusaders and recently claimed another one.

Miller was named the All-American Southwest Conference Team’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Miller broke the NCAA record for punt return yards with 1,680 in his four years with the Crusaders. He is averaging 20.27 yards per punt return this season with a 64-yard long. Miller added eight kick returns for 248 yards and ranked 63rd in Division III with 471 combined kick return yards.

Miller also received First Team Offense honors at slot back and return specialist.

As a receiver, Miller ranked third in the conference with 52 receptions. He has hauled in 702 yards with eight touchdowns this season. Miller averaged 13.5 yards per catch and 70.2 yards per game during the regular season.

He became the Crusaders’ all-time receiving leader in catches and yards earlier this year.

“It’s still sort of all surreal to become the school’s all-time leading receiver and punt returner,” said Miller. “I was more focused on trying to get the win than a personal record. Looking back on it, it is a tremendous accomplishment and something to be proud of when you look at it down the road.

“The honors are always good, but it is all about helping the team any way I can. I learned that playing as a Mustang. No one person is ever bigger than the team. That’s what we live by here at Mary-Hardin Baylor. We all buy in and we love to win.”

Crusaders head coach Larry Harmon said K.J. Miller is a special guy and everybody knows it.

“His attitude and love for his team is unbelievable,” Harmon said. “I hope our guys enjoy coaching him, because people like him don’t come around very often.”

Miller is looking for his third national Championship ring, as well, as the Crusaders advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 54-0 thumping of Huntingdon.

Miller hauled in six catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard bomb. Former Mustangs standout Chaka Watson led the Crusaders with eight tackles from his defensive back position.

The Cru’s next game starts at noon Saturday against Trinity University in San Antonio.

Miller 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.

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.