One of Murfreesboro’s all-time top running backs has returned home.
Well, sort of.
Former Riverdale standout and Mr. Football Gaston Miller will be on the sidelines this season as an assistant coach in District 7-AAA — for cross-town rival Oakland.
Miller, who was a three-year starting tailback for Riverdale, helped lead the Warriors to a Class 5A state football title in 2004. He finished his career with 5,340 yards and scored 83 touchdowns before moving on to play at Vanderbilt.
Miller will be a volunteer coach for the Patriots this season and will coach running backs. A significant portion of what Oakland does on offense is similar to what Riverdale did when Miller played at the Murfreesboro school.
“It’s good to be back home,” Miller said. “It’s good to be around familiar faces. It’s good to be back around family and people that have supported me my entire life.”
Miller said assistant coach Kit Hartsfield, who will be a high school assistant after a successful stint as the Oakland Middle head coach, talked Miller to coming to the county. Miller was an assistant at McGavock last season.
“Kit said if I was looking to get back into Rutherford County, I should definitely look at Oakland,” Miller said. “We stay in contact. He’s been my good friend ever since we played together at Riverdale.”
Oakland football coach Thomas McDaniel was an assistant at Riverdale when Miller played for former coach Gary Rankin. Oakland assistants Kris White, Matt Gardner and Matt Snow also were on Riverdale’s staff during Miller’s high school career.
“I already have a good idea of their personalities,” Miller said. “The voice are familiar. I played under them and with them. That’s an easier adjustment for me probably than any other coaching staff.”
Ironically, Oakland’s first game of the season will be at Riverdale in the annual Battle of the ‘Boro, played Aug. 22. Miller said he hasn’t thought of that. It’s been eight years since he last played for Riverdale.
Miller was a speed back in high school with elusive moves. He burst onto the scene as a sophomore when he won the starting position despite his small 5-foot-7 frame.
“I think every time I go to (Riverdale’s) campus and go to that field it will bring something back to me,” Miller said. “But shucks, when I’m in a different uniform or whatever, it’s business. All of that stuff from the past I have to put behind me. I love everyone that’s ever supported me at Riverdale.
“That was near a decade ago. I’ve been several places since then. It wasn’t so difficult, especially when there have been other guys do it before me.”