Brandon Miller knew what he was getting himself into.
The hard work he put in paid off after his freshman year at Wyoming.
The sophomore running back who came to Laramie as a preferred walk-on was one of three Cowboys players to earn a scholarship during the offseason, and with two-year starter Alvester Alexander banged up in camp, Miller worked as one of the top backs in Saturday’s spring scrimmage.
“[The scholarship] meant a whole lot to me and my family,” Miller said after UW’s eighth spring practice at the Indoor Practice Facility on Monday. “The coaches, they said that I could be a preferred walk-on and I knew that I could eventually get a scholarship.
“I wanted to work for it because that was my ultimate dream.”
At a position that saw its fair share of injuries, Miller was counted on from time to time to pick up more carries, particularly in scrimmages and practices.
He saw just five carries while playing in six games as a walk-on, but his work ethic earned him — as well as linebacker Patrick Hartford and fullback Greg Saydjari — a scholarship.
“He’s got great athleticism, speed, change of direction,” UW coach Dave Christensen said. “He’s worked extremely hard and put himself in a position to contribute and in a position to play some.”
Miller opened last season as the number two running back, but said he was more nervous than anxious.
Eventually, fellow true freshman Robert Herron took over the bulk of the backup duties behind Alexander, but Herron has since switched to wide receiver.
Miller was in the No. 2 spot again when camp opened, and with Alexander and converted linebacker Ghaali Muhammad both battling injuries, Miller has seen his workload increase.
“Now I’m on scholarship and everything so it’s time for me to step up and take a role on this team,” Miller said.
The Parker, Colo., native sees himself being in the mix when everybody’s healthy as well.
With a larger stable of running backs — the Pokes will also add true freshman Kody Sutton in the fall and have sophomore Nehemie Kankolongo back in the fold — the Pokes should be able to keep their backs fresh.
“It’s a spot where you’re going to rotate in and out,” Miller said. “Every opportunity I get, I’m going to go as hard as I can.”
That outlook isn’t any different from the one he had last year.
The only change is the scholarship money headed his way.