TideNation: Miller's long road to Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- His backpedal has come a long way since the start of spring practice. He is finding rhythm in his footwork, the steps coming back to him like a familiar dance from the past. Jai Miller isn't making music on the football field yet, but he's finding some of the right chords.

Nick Saban looks on. It's the first day of camp in Tuscaloosa, and already he's seeing the tools come together. Miller, his promising if not unorthodox safety, is finding his groove. Everything about him is encouraging: his maturity, his intelligence, his work ethic, his build. This is someone Saban can work with. This is someone who can do the improbable. He can make good on a second chance.

"He's catching on way faster than I did when I first got here," said safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, a rising junior and likely starter for the Tide. "He's catching on and learning very well and picking up and making a big improvement and change in the secondary."

Miller is still finding his way. There are good days and bad, practices where he drops three interceptions and scrimmages where he makes touchdown-saving tackles. He never thought a return to football would be easy, and so far it hasn't been. You don't show up at Alabama and become a star. You work at it and hope you're at your best when your number is called.

Hope is what football represents for Miller -- a chance to have something at the end of a toilsome journey. Alabama is either the end or the beginning for him, the final chapter of a restless athlete's tale or the start of something special.

To read the rest of Alex Scarborough's story, click here.