San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller, a Woodstock High School product, spent the evening before his team’s NFC championship battle with the Atlanta Falcons among hundreds friends, former teammates and family at a sports bar in downtown Atlanta, in the shadow of the Georgia Dome.
Miller said it was great to be back.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Seeing the family, seeing the friends and people who haven’t had the opportunity to watch the Niners play. We are playing right at home, so it’s great to be back here.”
Miller’s parents, Lisa and Bruce, have traveled throughout the season to see their son play, but they said it’s nice having him come to them for a change.
“We were able to get ready and drive here in 45 minutes and didn’t have to go to the airport,” Lisa Miller said. “It’s nice getting to see him like this.”
Before Bruce Miller joining the 49ers as a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, the Miller family cheered for the Falcons, but that won’t be the case today.
There has been a conversion.
“We are all 49er fans now,” said Miller’s great-aunt, Johnnie Lewis. “We really didn’t pay that much attention to pro football before Bruce got in.”
Shane Stever, who played football with Miller at Woodstock, said he knew someone from their graduating class would make it to the NFL, and he is glad that it was Miller.
“We’ve been playing football together since fourth grade,” said Stever, who came in from Nashville, Tenn., to attend Saturday’s reception. “No one really thought Bruce would be playing (pro football) until 10th grade, and he had a growth spurt and also got more serious about it. It took over as his passion.
“We had a great high school football team. Bruce wasn’t the only standout. Several went on to play college ball and we knew someone would be a pro. I’m just glad it’s Bruce because he is a stellar individual.”
Stever remained friends with Miller through the latter’s years playing at the University of Central Florida, and while it’s harder to stay in touch now, Stever wouldn’t miss the chance to see his friend again.
Also attending was former Woodstock football coach Mike O’Brien, who said that, while Miller isn’t the first player he’s coached to make it to the professional level, he is the most successful.
“It’s really great to see Bruce like this because you know how much work he put in during high school, and I know he had to put in a lot more work to get where he is now,” O’Brien said. “I’m just so happy for him and his family.
“He represents Woodstock well. I think it means a lot because of what he has done and where Woodstock was when he got there and where it is now.”