Texas A&M linebacker/defensive end Von Miller became Texas A&M's first major award winner since 1998 when he won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. Better yet, it was Dick Butkus himself who stopped by for a surprise delivery.
Miller led the Big 12 in sacks for the second consecutive season, and helped usher in the return of the Wrecking Crew, ending the season with six consecutive wins and putting the Aggies in the AT&T Cotton Bowl for the first time since 2005.
In the first part of his Q&A, Miller talks about meeting one of the game's legends, and what the award meant to him. In part two later today, he'll address Texas A&M's Cotton Bowl preparation and a teammate's status for the upcoming draft.
David Ubben: It seemed like you got pretty emotional at the podium accepting the award in front of your teammates and coaches, what was it like up there?
Von Miller: It was great to have all my teammates and have all the guys that were vital to my success here at A&M and vital to me being the football player that I was this year, it was good to get the award in front of my teammates, my guys, my brothers
DU: When did you find out you won?
VM: I found out about it when everybody else found out about it. We were in a team meeting. All season long, we've highlighted winners in past history. We watched highlights of Bill Russell, a couple of race horses, and that week it was Dick Butkus. We were watching Dick Butkus and the way he played the game, and we had the lights off. Two guys walked down the stairs and they sat down by me, but I didn't pay it any mind, because there was nowhere else for anybody to sit. When the lights came on, he tapped me, kind of nudged me and asked if I knew who he was. I knew it was Dick Butkus. He was there to present me with the trophy. It was emotional and overwhelming.
DU: How surprised were you, then?
VM: I was super surprised. It kind of had slipped, the whole award, being up for it. It had slipped my mind. I wasn't really even thinking about that stuff, I was just enjoying being with my teammates. It really, really caught me off-guard. I wasn't expecting to win it, I was just enjoying my time off, and here he comes with the award.
DU: How much did you and Dick get to talk?
VM: We got to talk about 45 minutes. I just asked some questions about leadership and about how to be consistent and be "that guy" all the time. I just asked him some questions about football. I figured this would be the best time to ask any football questions from a football legend, so I just shot football questions at him.
DU: What other kinds of questions did you ask?
VM: I just asked him how he was consistent, how did he hold himself at a high standard every game, every time out, and what he missed most about playing football. Pretty basic stuff. What were games like?
DU: Which of his answers was most memorable to you?
VM: The most memorable, for me, was him talking about his experiences with football. He said as a little kid, he didn't even know there was such a thing as "professional football." He just wanted to play. He didn't want the money, he just wanted to play football. He knew he wanted to do one thing, and that was football. He went to college to play and eventually to the NFL. The money and everything isn't what he was in it for. He was in it for the true love of the game, and that's why I'm in it, too.
DU: How many former Aggies did you hear from?
VM: Oh, man. I heard from almost everybody. Aaron Wallace, Marcus Buckley, Jacob Green, Mark Dodge, Jeff Fuller, Sr. A lot of guys. It was crazy. I talked to coach [Dat] Nguyen for awhile. It's just crazy. It's surreal. It all hasn't really set in with me yet, that I actually won the award.
DU: What of note did they all tell you?
VM: Really just congratulations, but for them to take the time to reach out to me. I look at those guys as legends, living legends. Just for them to take out the time and reach out to me said a lot. I really appreciated it.
In part two later today, Miller talks about his season, his Cotton Bowl plans, and the draft status of a teammate.