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Published November 26 2010

Where are they now?: Former Mahnomen RB Miller now gives back as a teacher

For a guy who could run a lot, Brent Miller decided the best place to go was home.

Most in the area might remember Miller for his days at Mahnomen (Minn.) High School, where he was a running back for the school’s football team.

As high school football fans scour through the game program’s at today and Saturday’s Prep Bowl games in Minneapolis, they will find Miller’s name. The 299 yards he ran for in the 1993 state title game is still a Prep Bowl record.

“It would have been more but what happened was our quarterback fumbled,” Miller said with a laugh. “I lost five yards and I always gave him crap about that.”

Miller’s legs took him to Southwest Minnesota State where he played college football.

But it was his brain that led him back to Mahnomen County where he is a fifth-grade teacher at the Naytahwaush Community Charter School in Bejou.

“I loved working with kids, and to me it was a no-brainer to work with kids,” Miller said. “After playing college football, I bounced around the state and finally gave up on the teaching thing and worked at the Boys and Girls Club at the White Earth Reservation before getting back into teaching.”

Aside from his wife and three children, Miller’s passion is making life better for American Indian students.

Miller said he’s one-sixty-fourth American Indian, but that’s not why he takes such pride in his work. Miller said he had a lot of friends who grew up on reservations, and he saw what life was like for them.

“I learned to understand what they went through because of my friends,” Miller said. “And if I can make things better, if I can change one life a year, that’s enough for me. I think native kids are counted out and I want for them to be counted in.”

When he’s not teaching, he does a little coaching at the pee wee level. About this time of year, he’s always being told how his records are being broken.

One of his Prep Bowl records, the longest run from scrimmage, was shattered in 2004 by Minnetonka’s Jalon Hopkins when he scampered 84 yards.

“I don’t get upset because they are there to be broken,” Miller said. “I just know on that day, I had a great offensive line and things fell right for me on that day.”