(Editor’s note: MTN Sports began recognizing some of the best football players in Montana history on July 2 with the launch of the #MTTop40. The series started with defensive backs and will run eight weeks, featuring one position each week, concluding with quarterbacks the week of Aug. 20-24 to coincide with Montana’s high school football season opener. We’ve wrapped up the defense, also profiling the defensive linemen and linebackers, and started the offense with the offensive linemen. We featured tight ends last week and focus this week on wide receivers.)
No. 3 wide receiver – Matt Miller, Helena Capital
A terrific all-around, record-setting athlete at Helena Capital, Matt Miller went on to have an outstanding collegiate career, setting numerous records at Boise State.
Matt Miller stat sheet
Miller was a dominant three-sport athlete at Helena Capital in the mid-2000s, earning all-state honors in football, basketball and track and field. He was a two-time all-state selection on the hardwood, where he scored more than 1,000 career points to become the Bruins’ all-time leading scorer. On the football field, Miller was part of a Capital dynasty that won a Class AA-record 33 consecutive games and state titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The Bruins lost to Great Falls CMR in the 2009 championship in Miller’s final high school game. Miller was named Class AA’s offensive MVP in both his junior and senior seasons. As a junior, he recorded 932 yards on a school-record 54 receptions while adding another 663 rushing yards. He totaled 22 offensive touchdowns and contributed two interceptions and another TD on defense. As a senior, Miller had 828 receiving yards, 864 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns. He was also named Montana’s Gatorade player of the year. Miller played in the 2010 Montana-Wyoming All-Star basketball series and the Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl, where he set game records of 12 receptions and 206 receiving yards.
Miller had opportunities to play college football all over the country, but he ultimately decided to play at Boise State. After redshirting in 2010, Miller worked his way into the starting lineup in 2011. He appeared in 13 games, setting Boise State single-season freshman records in receptions (62), receiving yards (679) and receiving touchdowns (nine) on his way to freshman all-America honors. Miller followed that up with an all-conference season as a sophomore, leading Boise State with 66 catches for 769 yards and five touchdowns. He again earned all-conference recognition as a junior, recording a school-record 88 catches for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns. He added another 28 catches for 461 yards and three touchdowns in an injury-shortened senior season to leave Boise State as the program’s leader in career receptions (244). He also ranked second in career receiving yards (3,049) and third in career touchdown receptions (29).
Miller signed as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos in 2015, but injuries ended his NFL career. He spent one season on the coaching staff at Boise State before returning to Montana. He’s entering his third season as the receivers coach at Montana State.
… on Miller:
Former Bozeman linebacker Brock Coyle: “Matt was a great athlete. I remember playing him in high school. He was definitely one of the best, if not the best, high school player I played against. Him and Brock Osweiler were great. Just explosive, big, fast, strong, everything you would want in a receiver and an athlete, he had it.”
Bozeman head coach Levi Wesche: “It was hard because they did such a good job moving him around. They played him at quarterback, they played him at running back, they played him at slot receiver and they played him at outside receiver. You knew they were going to find a way to get him the ball, you just didn’t really know how. That made it tough to game-plan for him. My most vivid memory is, he ran a wheel route right up the sideline, I was standing there on the sideline as a coach, and he went by me, the air rushing by me as he ran by sounded like a locomotive went by. Big, strong, fast, the total package. You look at what he did at Boise State, setting all those receiving records is pretty impressive.
“He was a pretty danged good cornerback, too, so the size and height means they can high-point you, they can get you off the ball and you can’t muscle them around. Sometimes with the little, faster guys you feel like if you can jam them off the line of scrimmage, they’re not going to go anywhere. Well, that wasn’t the case. He would dominate any corner you put out on there. When it got to the point where they had to have a play, they just lined him up in the backfield and ran some kind of quarterback power, quarterback sweep with him. You couldn’t tackle him. He was just that good. Four state championship games in high school. He played in one every single year he was there. The only one he lost was his senior year, which, if he would have been healthy I don’t think that would have happened.
“He is an awesome human being. I love being around him, love shooting the breeze with him. He’s a very funny individual, very dry, which I like, I kind of identify with that kind of humor. Good recruiter, works really, really hard, but when I watch him coach up there, and I’ve been to a few practices, he really pushes those guys. He’s a very blue-collar guy and I think he respects his receivers. It’s hard sometimes to want to react to that, to want to be blue-collar, too, but I think that’s a lot of the reason they’re having success up there.”