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"Big Money" Heath Miller's Jersey Retired Today by UVA

Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

You know that guy we took in the 1st round of 2005 out of the University of Virginia? That big, strong tight end that just passed Louis Lipps for 3rd-most career receptions in Steelers history?

Heath Miller, aka "Mr. Reliable"?

Well he just had his jersey retired earlier today by UVA, during halftime of their homecoming game against Maryland.

(Maryland won 27-20, way to ruin the moment Terps.)

Heath Miller actually arrived at UVA as a quarterback in 2001, and redshirted his first year.

At a practice early that season, Marques Hagans recalled Thursday, the scout team needed another tight end, and Miller switched positions.

"He ran down the seam and I threw him a ball that was over his head, and he reached up and caught it with one hand," Hagans recalled. "That was his last day as a quarterback."

Three seasons later in 2004, Miller earned the John Mackey Award for best tight end in college football (the first ever recipient from the ACC), and was also named a unanimous All-American -- just the second in UVA's history.

(For those curious: offensive lineman Jim Dombrowski was UVA's first in 1985, and then Chris Long - current St. Louis Rams defensive end and son of Howie Long - became the third in 2007).

Miller's stand-out play and clutch catches for the Cavaliers earned him the nickname of "Big Money" in Charlottesville, but he was still the same humble Heath back then that we know and love today.

"The thing about Heath was, what you saw on the football field was the same thing you saw off the field," said Hagans, who started at quarterback for UVa in 2004 and '05.

"He would pancake a guy, then at the end of the play help him up. In the weight room, he was one of the hardest workers on the team. He never complained. He's just one of the great people in my life, and I'm lucky to know him. He's been true to who he is. He loves his wife, loves his kids, loves his family."

After his highly decorated 2004 season, Miller was ready for the big leagues and passed on his final year of eligibility to enter the 2005 NFL draft.

And as they say, the rest is history.

That Pittsburgh was the perfect place for him to play pro football might not have been obvious to Miller on the day he was drafted, he said, "but certainly over the course of my career I realized how fortunate I've been to be drafted by Pittsburgh and to be able play my whole career with the Steelers."

The Rooneys, who own the Steelers, are revered for their stewardship of the storied franchise, "and I'm proud to be a part of their organization," Miller said.

"There's not much that I could complain about at all or change at all. I feel like a lucky man."

Congratulations to Heath Miller for being honored as one of the all-time greats from UVA!

In my opinion, his time in the black and gold will also be remembered with similar distinction.