Last season was one of the most dismal in Southern Miss history, but 2013 is still full of excitement for the Golden Eagles family.
The same could be said for Gulfport (MS) junior quarterback Thad Miller.
After transferring to Gulfport from Long Beach, Miller has all the pieces in place for a breakout season just one year after suffering through a separated shoulder and a long, 1-9 season with the Bearkats.
The strong-armed, 6-foot-2, 215-pound signal caller separated his shoulder just four games into the 2012 season, and watched as his team slipped into insignificance.
"It was pretty terrible," Miller said. "Our line had some injuries and it just kind of snowballed."
Miller completed 61 of his 141 pass attempts for 866 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions, which was more than disappointing for a quarterback widely considered to be one of the best on the coast.
But the skies have cleared, and with a transfer to one of the state's top programs, 2013 holds a lot of promise.
The Admirals finished 8-4 last year under head coach Mike Justice, and return their top four receivers. They also lost their starting and backup quarterbacks, clearing room for Miller to take the reigns right away.
"We have the Floyd brothers (Jevon and Richaud) coming back and we return our tight end, so we should have some weapons." Miller said. "The only other player to take a snap under center last season was a wide receiver, so I should get a chance to start if I keep working hard."
And there's reason to believe that a Miller will light south Mississippi up in his senior year. In his last healthy season as a sophomore at Long Beach, he completed 147 of 269 pass attempts (55 percent) for 2,361 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
He ended up breaking his collarbone at the end of the regular season, but not before leading his team to a 7-3 regular season finish.
That promising season has earned him a look from UL-Lafayette, which invited Miller to their Junior Day on March 23. That just happens to be the same day as the scheduled Southern Miss Junior Day, which Miller said he'd be interested in attending.
"My mother and father both graduated from Southern Miss, and I know they have a good program," Miller said. "I have watched (coach Todd Monken's) offenses and Oklahoma State and they have a great system. I also have two former teammates who play at Southern Miss now."
Miller said he thinks he would fit well into Monken's style of offense. He's been clocked at 4.92 in the 40-yard dash, and said he has the ability to tuck the ball and run.
"My arm is my biggest strength," he said. "I usually make good decisions, too. I'd like to work on my accuracy a little bit. I'm pretty accurate, but I'm always looking for ways to make myself a better quarterback."
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