116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
North Dakota State Coach Matt Entz recognizes the white Toyota 4Runner when he arrives at the Fargodome.
The ride belongs to freshman quarterback Cam Miller and has become a regular sight at the football team’s facility as early as any Bison player. Being one of the first to punch in and last to punch out is a lesson he learned early in his athletics career.
“I think you have to if you want to be great,” Miller said. “I was taught at a young age that if you want to get to where you want to be, you have to put in the time and the work. I feel like I’ve done that so far and I need to continue to do that and bring people along with me.”
Dedication and work ethic has allowed Miller to contribute to the national power in his first year. He will return to his home state this weekend when the second-ranked Bison (5-1, 4-1) play Northern Iowa (3-3, 3-3) at the UNI-Dome Saturday, starting at 4 p.m. (ESPN+).
The former Solon all-state signal caller has shared time with starter Zeb Noland, playing in NDSU’s last four games and earning Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Week for his performance in a 21-13 victory over Illinois State.
“I think you’re going to continue to see him have his roles in each game,” Entz said during Monday’s weekly news conference. “He is mature beyond his years. I know he is only a freshman but the fact that he has been here since June, I think, has paid dividends for him, understanding the offense, understanding the communication piece required to be a quarterback at NDSU. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us having plays, packages or series with Cam out there.”
Veteran players have realized his ability to lead the offense.
“He’s a really talented young player,” NDSU junior tight end Josh Babicz said. “I love when he gets on the field. I love when he gets to show what he’s got. He will do well for us and right now he’s doing a great job.”
Miller sacrificed his final prep baseball season to report early and begin preparation. The extra time allowed him to understand the offense and terminology. The summer and 30 fall practices provided a chance to learn from projected NFL draft pick Trey Lance and Noland, who previously played at Iowa State, and associate head coach and pass game coordinator Randy Hedberg.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder said he wouldn’t be in this position if not for that extended experience.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d really see the field, at the earliest, until the third year I was here, my sophomore year just because Trey Lance was here and he’s unbelievable,” Miller said. “Just to get this opportunity is really a dream come true, but I feel the coaches have really prepared me well to go in and make plays for our offense.”
Miller owns a 109.4 QB rating, completing 8 of 13 passes for 74 yards. He has rushed for 73 more, including a 6-yard touchdown with 3:39 left in the fourth quarter to seal a 21-13 victory over Illinois State. Against the Redbirds, Miller played most of the second half in just his third college game. He accounted for 118 offensive yards, leading the Bison with 57 rushing yards and capping a 13-play, 84-yard final scoring drive that melted 8:13 off the clock.
“He does provide some other unique skill sets,” Entz said. “Some things that maybe we can’t do necessarily with Zeb … that is probably the piece that we have yet to demonstrate or show the country is how well Cam can perform and how well he can actually throw it.
“He does a great job in practice. I’ve seen him go do some stuff against our defense that is hard to believe he’s still just a freshman.”
The biggest strides haven’t been physical. Miller has made gains in the weight room and adjusted to the speed of the game, which is a big challenge for new players.
Entz said Miller has adapted quickly.
“I would say mentally is where he’s shown the most leaps and bounds just coming in here as a senior in the month of June,” Entz said. “He had very little knowledge of what we were doing. As I tell every recruit, the verbiage, the terminology is going to be 100 percent different. He had to wrap his mind around it.”
The relationship between Miller and Noland has been positive. Miller has credited Noland and Lance for teaching him about intricacies of the game. He learned how to prepare, watch film, identify blitzes and what defenses MVFC foes run. Competition continues between the two but both want what is best for the team.
“From day one, Zeb and I have been super close and we’ve talked, most recently, about we’re both going to be there for each no matter who is out there on the field,” Miller said. “We’re going to support each other and I don’t think there is any bad blood whatsoever between us. He and I both came here to win football games and we’re just going to support each other.”