Feature Story: Football Family Man
A proven program-builder, Trent Miles was introduced as Georgia State’s second head football coach on Dec. 3, 2012 and charged with the task of building the fledgling program as it jumped to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Sun Belt Conference.
Miles, a former assistant coach at Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington, demonstrated the ability to build a winning program in five seasons as the head coach at Indiana State. The remarkable rebuilding job he did there earned notice, and Georgia State President Mark Becker and then-Director of Athletics Cheryl Levick jumped at the chance to bring Miles to Atlanta following the retirement of Bill Curry, the program’s head coach from its inception in 2008.
Taking over a Georgia State program that had been playing football for just three seasons, Miles immediately began to lay the foundation to enable the Panthers to compete at the highest level of college football. Miles and his staff are building the program through recruiting, player development and the establishment of a winning culture, all within the framework of a strong family atmosphere.
“We are committed to building this program into one that competes for championships on the field and in the classroom,” Miles said upon his hiring. “We will strive to represent our student body, alumni and the state of Georgia with character and integrity.”
Despite playing at the FBS level for the first time with an undermanned roster, Miles’ first Georgia State team showed progress throughout the 2013 season. Taking Miles’ mantra of “Pounding the Rock” to heart, the Panthers earned respect for their hard-nosed play and competitiveness throughout a challenging season.
Under Miles’ tutelage, wide receiver and return specialist Albert Wilson earned all-conference and All-America recognition with a record-setting season in 2013. Following the season, Wilson became the first Georgia State player to earn an invitation to the prestigious National Football League Scouting Combine and signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Miles also helped develop Ulrick John into an NFL prospect as the offensive tackle was drafted in the seventh round by the Indianapolis Colts, becoming the second draft pick in Georgia State's brief history.
Miles’ emphasis on the total development of his student-athletes was in evidence as the Panthers earned the Sun Belt Conference’s team academic award as the football program with highest grade point average in the league.
Miles’ first head-coaching job was at his alma mater, Indiana State, where he took over a struggling program that had won just one game in the three seasons before his arrival in 2008. But it took just three years for him to produce a winning season, the first of three straight winning campaigns for Miles in Terre Haute.
After leading his 2010 Sycamores to a 6-5 mark for the school’s first winning record since 1996, Miles was recognized as Missouri Valley Football Conference Coach of the Year. He was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year honor.
Miles guided ISU to another winning season in 2011 and then a 7-4 record in 2012, including a 5-3 mark in the MVFC. No Sycamore team had won more games since the 1984 squad on which Miles played, and the school’s run of three straight winning seasons under Miles was the longest in Terre Haute since ISU had six straight from 1964-69.
Following the 2012 season, Miles was honored as the American Football Coaches Association Region Four Coach of the Year, earning that distinction for the second time in three seasons.
Under Miles’ direction, ISU rose as high as No. 14 in the national polls and up to No. 5 in the GridIron Power Index in 2012. The No. 14 national ranking in The Sports Network Top 25 was the Sycamores’ highest since joining the MVFC in 1987 as well as the highest in the Trent Miles era.
The highlight of the 2012 season was the Sycamores’ 17-14 road victory at No. 1-ranked North Dakota State, the defending FCS champion.
In his last two seasons at Indiana State, Miles coached one of the top players in the FCS ranks in running back Shakir Bell. A first-team All-American as a sophomore in 2011, Bell led the nation in rushing with 151.8 yards per game and tied for second in voting for the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the FCS. Bell was one of two first-team All-Americans who Miles coached in 2011 as defensive end Ben Obaseki was also named to the Associated Press first team. They were the first two AP first-team All-Americans in school history.
In 2012, Bell ranked sixth nationally in rushing (134.1 ypg) and again earned All-America accolades from AP (third team) and The Sports Network (second team). Cornerback Johnny Towalid was also recognized as an All-American by AP (second team) and The Sports Network (third team).
Indiana State led the MVFC in the number of all-conference selections in both 2011 (13) and 2012 (14).
Miles achieved success in 2010 with a prolific offense that ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring with 31.2 points per game, while his 2012 squad was built on a defense that finished third in the nation in points allowed (14.3 pg) and fifth in total defense (296.4 ypg).
Among the many notable accomplishments by Indiana State under Miles in his last three seasons was the Sycamores’ 44-16 victory over Western Kentucky in 2011, the program’s first win over an FBS opponent since 2001. That 2011 Sycamore squad spent eight weeks in the national FCS polls, climbing to No. 16 in the nation.
Throughout his career, Miles has coached on both sides of the ball and possesses more than 20 years of college coaching experience as well as one year as a National Football League assistant with the Green Bay Packers. As an offensive assistant for the Packers in 2000, Miles worked with wide receivers and quality control. He coached NFL All-Pro receiver Antonio Freeman.
In the seven years following at Stanford (wide receivers, 2001), Notre Dame (wide receivers, 2002-04) and Washington (running backs, 2005-07), Miles also coached and developed many talented skill players. Among his pupils were: Stanford’s Teyo Johnson, a second-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2003; Notre Dame’s Maurice Stovall and Arnaz Battle, both of whom went on to the NFL; Jeff Samardzija, an All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame who is now playing professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs; and Louis Rankin, a 1,000-yard rusher at Washington.
Miles began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Indiana State (1987), New Mexico (1988-89) and Oklahoma (1990). While at New Mexico, one of his mentors was Marvin Lewis, now the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Miles moved to an assistant coaching position at Northern Illinois for four seasons, working with receivers (1991-93) and then defensive backs (1994). Miles then headed west for a two-year stint at Hawaii, where he coached wide receivers (1995) and defensive backs (1996).
As wide receivers coach at Fresno State from 1997-99, Miles helped the Bulldogs to a share of the 1999 Mountain West Conference title and a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl. He also recruited and coached future NFL standout Bernard Berrian.
Miles, 50, is a native of Terre Haute, Ind., and a 1987 graduate of Indiana State with a degree in criminology. He was a wide receiver for the Sycamores from 1982-86, playing on the 1983 and 1984 squads that each won nine games and advanced to the FCS playoffs. The 1984 Sycamores were ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the season, and that team was inducted into the Indiana State University Hall of Fame in 2002.
He is married to the former Bridget Hogan, and the couple has three daughters, Kaylee, Anna, and Charlie Elizabeth, and one son, Noah Michael.
|TRENT MILES YEAR-BY-YEAR