Lamar Miller saw a couple of familiar faces when he walked into the New England Patriots’ running backs room for the first time.
Miller, the veteran back who signed with the Patriots last month, has known fellow New England ball-carriers James White and Sony Michel for years.
Miller and White’s relationship dates back to their high school days in the greater Miami area. Miller starred at Miami Killian High and later at the University of Miami. White, who’s one year younger, played 30 miles north in Fort Lauderdale for a loaded St. Thomas Aquinas team that also featured Phillip Dorsett and Giovani Bernard.
“We’re from the same area, playing high school ball together,” White explained Thursday. “Well, not together, but in the same area. He’s a little bit older than I am. Just seeing him go to Miami, (he was) a guy that I looked up to, being a younger guy.”
The hometown Miami Dolphins drafted Miller in the fourth round in 2012. When White reached the NFL two years later, the two began training together. They continue to do so each offseason.
“We’ve been training together ever since I’ve been in the NFL,” White said. “So we’ve been able to compete, work out with each other and try to make each other better.”
South Florida ties also linked Miller and Michel. The latter attended American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., just west of Fort Lauderdale, where he emerged as one of the nation’s top recruits.
Miller had reached the pros by the time Michel was deciding which college to attend, but he did his best to steer the young standout toward his alma mater. (He was unsuccessful, as Michel ultimately committed to Georgia.)
“I played for the University of Miami,” Miller said Tuesday. “He was a recruit, and I was trying to recruit him to Miami. … I?ve known James for a while, and I?ve known Sony for a while, as well.”
Now, the three are together in New England. But how long their union will last remains to be seen.
Miller, who missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL, spent all of training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list. Admitting he struggled to complete New England’s rigorous conditioning regimen, the 29-year-old did not make his Patriots practice debut until Monday, giving him less than a week to prove himself on the field before cutdown day.
Miller’s odds of sticking around improved when second-year Damien Harris suffered an injury that reportedly could sideline him into the regular season, but it remains possible he could be left off the team’s 53-man roster when it’s finalized Saturday afternoon.
Despite that uncertainty, White said he’s happy to have his old friend aboard.
“I know he’s the ultimate competitor,” White said. “He’s coming off an injury, but he’s a guy who’s worked hard, has had a lot of success in this league, and it’s good to have him as a teammate and good to compete with him.”
Miller spent the last four seasons with the Houston Texans and made the Pro Bowl in 2018.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images