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DevinMillerWKU

Marshall’s Devin Miller (83) celebrates with teammate Grant Wells after a Herd touchdown against Western.

Marshall University football held its annual postseason awards banquet in early December at which 20 different awards were presented to players.

Yet one award was missing.

There was no “Comeback Player of the Year” award. Well, there should have been, and it should have been presented to redshirt junior tight end Devin Miller.

Remember what happened to Miller? Let’s refresh the collective memory.

Marshall was playing at North Texas on Oct. 15. Miller, a reserve tight end, entered the game early in the first quarter during the ninth play of the Thundering Herd’s second possession.

It was second-and-8 at the Mean Green’s 13-yard line. The athletic Miller leaped to catch a 5-yard pass from quarterback Grant Wells and had his legs taken out from under him. When Miller reached out with his right arm to break his fall, it happened. He dislocated his right elbow.

Subsequent replays, including slow-motion and close-ups, forced viewers to turn their heads and look away. It was not for the squeamish.

Most everyone assumed Miller would need extensive surgery for torn ligaments and miss the rest of the 2021 season.

Guess again.

“There are no scars,” said Miller, pulling up the right sleeve of his shirt to display his elbow. “It stiffened up a little bit now, a little bit of range of motion loss, but it’s back straight.”

That is truly amazing considering how ugly it appeared both in real time and instant replay.

“Yeah, and the slo-mo,” said Miller. “I’ve seen the video. I probably saw it only twice. That was enough for me. But, yeah, I definitely saw the slo-mo replay, and it looked horrible.

“It came clean out.”

It actually looked like Miller had broken his right arm in half.

“Dr. [Charles] Giangarra reduced it,” explained Miller. “It was actually the only [football] trip he had made the whole year because Dr. [John] Jasko usually goes, but he had something going on. So, it was a replacement, one-time-only deal.

“But he is very, very talented at what he does. He knows exactly what he’s doing at reducing an elbow. He just popped it right back in — one try, clean. After that is when I actually started feeling the pain.

“At first I didn’t know if my arm was broken in half or not. I couldn’t feel it yet. It was kind of numb when it was out [dislocated]. When he popped it back in, that’s actually when I started feeling the pain and way more swelling.”

The expectation, of course, was torn ligaments and tendons.

“It was just one of those rare cases with no torn ligaments, no fractures ... it was unbelievable,” said Miller.

Indeed it was.

“I am definitely blessed,” he said. “I had 40 people at that game, too, because all my family is from Oklahoma and Texas.”

Then Miller probably missed the rest of the season, right?

Uh, wrong.

“I missed FIU and FAU and I played special teams only against UAB,” he said. “After that, I was back. I only missed two complete games.”

That is incredible.

“It’s crazy,” said Miller with a laugh.

What makes it even crazier is Miller’s comeback included catching a 3-yard touchdown catch with 14:22 remaining in the second quarter to give MU a 14-0 lead over Western Kentucky in the Conference USA East Division championship game on Nov. 27.

“Yeah, that was amazing,” said Miller. “Full circle. I don’t know. At a certain point — right when it happened — I really didn’t know what was wrong. So, I was thinking, ‘Is my career over? Is my season over?’”

Just about everyone thought his season definitely was over.

“That’s what I thought, too,” said Miller. “Then, right after he reduced it, I got a little bit happier with a more positive attitude because he said, ‘Oh, it went clean back in. You might be pretty good. You might be in good shape.’

“Then we looked at the X-ray at North Texas right away and everything was fine. There were no fractures, so I was thinking, ‘Well, all right, this might be working still.’”

It’s working so well, in fact, now Miller is looking forward to playing in the New Orleans Bowl against Louisiana at 9:15 p.m. on Saturday.

What an utterly amazing saga.

“It was amazing,” agreed Miller. “It really was.”

And he doesn’t even have a “Comeback Player of the Year” trophy to show for it.

Or a scar.