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According to former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy, Joel Miller, former USF running back and wide receiver, has died at the age of 29.

Miller made the college football headlines for reasons he probably never could have imagined when he was a running back at USF. He was a walk-on running back for the Bulls, but was at the center of a controversy involving then head coach Jim Leavitt, who allegedly grabbed Miller by the throat and struck him twice in the face at halftime of a game between USF and Louisville.

Miller made the college football headlines for reasons he probably never could have imagined when he was a running back at USF. He was a walk-on running back for the Bulls, but was at the center of a controversy involving then head coach Jim Leavitt, who allegedly grabbed Miller by the throat and struck him twice in the face at halftime of a game between USF and Louisville.

Miller played for the Bulls in both 2010 and 2011, notching 11 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown in 2010 while adding a few catches and a rush in 2011.

He played at Wharton High School before joining USF, where he ran for over 2,600 yards in his final two seasons.

Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times passed on thoughts from one of his former coaches at Wharton.

“I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Joel,” said longtime Wharton assistant Craig Rainey, who coached Mr. Miller at the New Tampa school.

“He was a good young man and tough football player that I had the pleasure to coach. Joel and I kept in touch regularly. I will miss talking with Joel. My thoughts and prayers are with his parents, Kathy and Paul, his brothers, sister and the rest of his family.”

Wharton head coach David Mitchell also commented on Miller’s death, saying that the situation with Leavitt shouldn’t even be brought up.

“The Leavitt thing, with this situation…that shouldn’t even be brought up. The kid was too special for that,” Mitchell said.

“He was a great kid, great person. … He made it to the point where he made me want to coach him. I tell you right now, I’m glad I met Joel Miller.”

According to Knight, the cause of Miller’s death isn’t immediately known.

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