OAKLEAF - Oakleaf High wrestling and assistant football coach Marcus Miller has had his share of taking teams at the bottom of the stats list to an upward trend, but now, with his promotion to the athletic director at Oakleaf High School, Miller will get a chance to coordinator a sports program that year in and year out produces athletic achievement at the state level as well as at the national level.
“My wife and I have never sat down and had a conversation about me being an athletic director,” said Miller, who was chosen on Mon., May 25. “I have always seen myself as a football coach, whether a head coach or an assistant coach.”
With the likes of guys like Shaquille Quarterman, recent draftee to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the nationally-acclaimed girls softball team, a handful of state champion athletes from track, swimming and weightlifting, Miller’s outlook is to not lose his relationships with the athletes, but to maintain the connect.
“One of my biggest fears with this job is losing that contact I have had with the kids on the teams,” said Miller, married to wife Heather for 13 years with two kids, Blaire, 7, and Blake, 2. “I have already told my head coaches that I will be at practices and games because when that number 20 catches a touchdown pass, I want to know who number 20 is so I can say good job to him on Monday morning.”
Miller sees the athletic director job as making his head coaches more successful.
“I have some things in place designed to take things off their plate; so coaches can coach,” said Miller, who resigned from his football spot, but will remain as wrestling coach. “It’s about them, the coaches, being successful. Do I get to share the smiles on the sidelines, Sure, but, in the end, it’s about putting good people around our kids so they can teach life lessons through sports.”
Miller, who hails from Rochester, IND and had a baseball scholarship (U Indiana-Fort Wayne) on his table as a young athlete before transferring to Manchester College, also in Indiana, before finding Bradford County High School in Florida to start his football coaching career.
Miller, an offensive tactician on the sidelines with an acumen for quarterback skills, left Bradford, had a year at Oakleaf High, then had a five year stint as head coach at a failing Englewood High School in Jacksonville that was 1-9 and 6-44 since 2007. Miller turned the embattled Englewood program a bit with a 5-5 season in 2015 that was best in a decade before finishing at 13-37. Miller then left to go to Terry Parker in a similiarly dire situation and, with an offense dubbed Air Raid, turned a six loss opening slate into a 26-16 season-ending win over Westside and a 3-10 season with one win a forfeit.
“I was at Fleming Island High School in the spring of 2018, but coach Garis called and asked me to come back to Oakleaf in the fall,” said Miller, who was interviewing coaches for girls basketball and track and setting up a virtual athletic awards ceremony in a downpour on Tuesday as his first director duties.”
Miller, who was also the head wrestling coach at Oakleaf in the very rugged district 1-3A ranks with the likes of Fleming Island, Flagler Palm Coast and Buchholz. Miller was able to qualify seven wrestlers to regions and two advancing to the state meet.
“I have two great former head coaches on that wrestling coaching staff with Sean Conroy and Jake Scott, plus former Oakleaf High wrestler Rory Roderick, and I know that program will continue to become better,” said Miller. “I don’t know if being head wrestling coach and having some success had anything to do with the school’s decision, but it does show your organizational and leadership skills with other coaches and that’s what this job entails.”