No shirt, no shoes, no problem.
That’s exactly Stephen Miller’s way of life. As a starting quarterback, outstanding student, and aspiring pilot, Miller has it all going for him.
Sitting in the cafeteria, looking through the glass windows, Vaquero running back Willie Youngblood pointed him out and said, “There’s Miller.” Immediately everyone knew where to look.
There he goes, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound, beach-bum-looking quarterback.
He wore a Toronto Blue Jays baseball hat, sunglasses, two puka shell necklaces, backpack, board shorts, and sandals. Something made him stand out from the rest of the Glendale students..oh, hat’s right, he had no shirt on.
On a typical warm, California day, you would have thought Miller was on his way to the beach, but instead he was on his way to class.
As he walked through the small cliques that scatter all over Plaza Vaquero, a few girls let out a flirtatious giggle and some guy said, “Hey, surf’s up bro.”
Miller continues walking towards his class, and ignores the comments he receives. “I go with the flow,” is all he said.
A California native, the 20-year-old Miller grew up in Sunland. His passion for football began when he was just 6 years old, when he played flag football for a youth league in the San Fernando Valley. He attended Verdugo Hills High School where he played receiver and quarterback his freshmen year, and then stayed at quarterback his last three years.
During his senior year, he sent letters to different colleges he wanted to attend. All returned his letters, and stated that they already had a quarterback and he was not needed. No other schools offered his major, aviation, until he was recruited by Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He attended HSU for one year, where he managed to stay on the football team and worked to earn his degree. As it often happens when young students go to school far from home, Miller began to dislike the area.
He returned to attend Glendale College last year, where he was second-string quarterback. The Vaqueros ended their season with a 3-7 record. Miller started three games and played a total of seven games. He accumulated 815 yards and had six touchdowns. He continued his studies in aviation and stayed focused on school.
Over the summer, he spent countless hours in the scorching heat practicing with offensive coordinator Derek Bedell on how to get his throwing arm to stay well above his head.
“We would spend an hour, three days a week doing some of the most ridiculous drills you see fathers do with their 4-year-old son when they are teaching them how to throw a baseball,” said Bedell.
Miller never questioned Bedell, or his ways of teaching him. Slowly but surely Miller improved and was ready to lead the Vaqueros this season. In regular season, the Vaqueros are 3-1. Miller has passed for over 621 yards, and has thrown seven touchdowns.
The team responds to Miller’s leadership in a peculiar way. Miller isn’t exactly the fiery type of leader a quarterback should be. “That’s just not me,” he said. The team had a hard time adapting to Miller and his ways, but now they respond to him as a leader. “It’s his team,” said Bedell.
Miller has a different philosophy on leading the team. “People call a leader differently than I do. People think a leader is someone that has to yell at everybody,” he said. “I just do it by my actions. I’m not going to yell. I get into the game, but never at practice. If people follow me, they follow me. If they don’t, they don’t.”
The team has even named him “Sunshine,” after the character in the movie “Remember the Titans.” Miller joked around and said, “He cuts his hair in the movie. They still assume ‘he’s from California. Long, blonde hair. He’s Sunshine.'”
Miller actually doesn’t mind the nickname.
Youngblood commented on Miller’s personality. “He’s a goofy dude, but when it comes to business he’s serious.”
Aside from being a different kind of leader, Miller is an outstanding student. He has maintained all A’s and B’s through every semester and has a 3.1 GPA. If he passes all his current classes, he will obtain his Associate’s degree in aviation.
Miller knows how to take charge and aspire to become the best he can be. Whether it’s being the leader of an offense or the pilot of an airplane, he’s always in control of his life.
His passion for flying began in 2007. He loves to travel and aviation would allow him to do that. “I just wanted to do it, and I pursued it. I love flying,” said Miller.
On Sept. 20, he obtained his Private Pilot License, or PPL, which is the first of many license tests he must pass before being able to fly major airline planes. This allows him to fly private airplanes.
So far, Miller has visited 21 states but has yet to fly himself to other states or out of the country. His ultimate dream is to fly for a major airline.
Bedell commented on Miller’s future career path and said, “There’s more to life than just playing sports. I commend him on what he wants to do. He’s got a pure passion and knowledge for football, but he’s got a passion and a drive to fly planes for a living.”
For Miller, it doesn’t matter where he wants to take flight. Whether it’s his career, a football, or an airplane, he knows how to achieve it.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” said Bedell. He has no doubt in his mind that Miller will accomplish all his goals.
In his spare time, Miller also enjoys playing the drums and surfing. He’s been playing the drums since he was in 10th grade, but doesn’t play on a regular basis. He’s also said surfing is a hard thing to do.
It doesn’t matter if it’s taking control of an offense, making the right decisions in his life, or taking off in an airplane, Miller will always be the casual guy who stands out from the crowd with his flowing hair, board shorts and no shirt.