PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIPACADEMIC INTEGRATION COMPETITIVE EXCELLENCE

Senior Stories: Miles McCollum

Senior Stories: Miles McCollum

"Miles has been one of our more versatile and dependable defensive linemen for some time and now is his time to break through and become an All-Ivy caliber player." – Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football
 
Q: What is your concentration?
My primary concentration is Economics, and I hope to get a secondary in Cultural Anthropology.

Q: What do you hope to do in life once football is finished?
I would love to take some time after football to travel. I've got a full list of other things I would like to do, including getting scuba certified, going on a motorcycle road trip, restoring a muscle car and starting a business.
 
Q: Can you explain the nuances of your position and provide something for the casual fan to better understand your position?
Almost everything we do as a defensive lineman is a reaction to what the offense is doing. If the offensive lineman is trying to get outside of us with a reach block, we don't let him do that. If the offensive lineman is trying to drive us out of our gap, we make sure that doesn't happen. If the tight end or h-back tries to kick us out on a back block, we have to hold our ground. The types of blocks that we receive help us diagnose where the ball is going. More or less, the quicker you can react, the better you can be at your position. When each defensive player wins their individual battle, the defense as a whole is most successful.
 
Q: What is your first memory of football?
My first football memories are from playing in the backyard with my dad and younger brother, even before I began playing little league. We would draw plays up in the grass and run routes. My dad would also hide the ball from us and we'd have to try to wrestle it loose like a fumble drill.
 
Q: What's your favorite Harvard team to watch as a fan?  
Basketball is my favorite sport to watch as a fan. They've been successful on a national scale recently, so they've been really fun to watch.
 
Q: What do you think the hardest sport at Harvard is?  
I think I have to go with water polo. I have no idea how those guys and girls are able to play a contact sport while swimming back and forth and treading water for an entire match.
 
Q: What are the hardest parts of being a student-athlete at Harvard?
The hardest and most critical part of being a student-athlete at Harvard has been time management. Unlike a lot of other Division I programs, athletes here at Harvard are not given extra benefits academically. We are expected to succeed on both sides of the river, and in order to do so we must allocate our time each day to accomplish everything that must get done. Sometimes this means writing papers on bus rides, taking midterm exams at hotels and scheduling time to meet with peer tutors from the BSC. Often times, the hardest thing to work into our schedules is sleep. Getting enough rest has to be a priority because without it, performing on the field and in the classroom is that much harder.
 
Q: What's the best part about a home football day?
I have always loved arriving at the stadium and feeling the energy in the locker room before a home game. As everyone goes through their individual routines to get ready, like laying out equipment or getting taped, it feels as if we're preparing for a battle. It's always fun to see my family and friends after the game.
 
Q: Who do you like lining up against in practice?
I love to line up against Max Rich. He's probably the best offensive tackle in the Ivy League and he is also one of my roommates. It sounds cliché, but we both make each other better players on the field, and it's a bonus that we can hang out and joke around together after practice.
 
Q: Who has the best nickname on the team and why?  
Ryan Halvorson always goes by the name Halvo or Wizard. I think this actually just came about one day before practice when someone yelled "You're a wizard, Halvo."
 
Q: Do you have a nickname and how did it come about?
Yeah, a lot of people on the team call me Smiles. This name came about before I got to Harvard, and it has stuck with me during my time here. A former teammate once told me that I was one of the only players that would sack the QB play after play, and then help him back up with a smile on my face.
 
Q: What do you think of when you hear Harvard's mission statement of "Education through Athletics"?
During my time at Harvard, I have learned just as many, if not more, lessons on the football field as I have in the classroom. Playing football for Harvard has not been easy. Through embracing the year-round grind on the field and in the classroom, I've grown and matured to become the man I am today.
 
Q: How has playing football at Harvard better prepared you for life?  
Playing any sport at the college level provides you with endless opportunities to battle adversity. For football specifically, only a small portion of the adversity we will face is actually seen by fans in games. The other 90 percent happens during the off-season, when there's three feet of snow on the ground, the shuttle is not running, and we have to cross the bridge at 5 a.m. to get to workouts and practice. As I said before, playing football at Harvard hasn't been easy, but I know that the life I've got ahead of me will not always be smooth sailing either. Playing football here has given me the confidence and attitude to battle whatever will be thrown my way in the future.
 
Q: What is your favorite memory on the football field?  
This would have to be the experience of winning three Ivy League championships in a row. Each season has been different, and it's been an honor to learn from all of the older defensive linemen that I've been around over the years. Some names that come to mind are the Obukwelu brothers, Jack Dittmer, Ryan Delisle, Zack Hodges, Denzel Paige, Jameson McShea and Dan Moody. All of those guys come from very different backgrounds, but they all have a passion for Harvard football that I've tried to emulate.
 
Q: If you could do anything for a day without any cost considerations, what would it be?
I would spend time with my friends and family doing things that I love. I'd begin the morning with a trip to the gym, and then some hiking and fishing. I'd probably have some lunch at Raising Canes, play nine holes of golf in the afternoon, and have a big cookout and barbecue for dinner followed by a bonfire and s'mores. Maybe I'll make some time for a local craft brewery visit as well. It doesn't take too much to make me happy.
 
Q: Best and worst football movies of all-time? Why?
I don't think there is such thing as a bad football movie. The best one though is without a doubt Remember the Titans. I'm the kind of person that usually doesn't watch movies more than once, but when this comes on TV I will always watch it all the way through. 
 
Q: What is your favorite Murphy-ism (quote/saying that Coach Murphy is known for)?
Anything remotely related to grit. That's definitely one of Coach Murphy's favorite terms. 
 
Q: Of your teammates, who is most likely to 1) invent 'the next big thing,' 2) be a standup comedian, 3) win The Voice, 4) fall off the face of the earth? Why?
1. Dallas Schray is going to invent 'the next big thing'. This summer he filed a patent for a project he was working on at Texas Instruments. I believe he has also done some work with prosthetic limb engineering as well.
2. Scotty 'the body' Evans has the best shot at becoming a comedian. My locker is right across from his, and he always cracking jokes and speaking his mind before workouts and practice.
3. I don't think anyone on this team has any business competing on The Voice...
4. Langston Ward is most likely to fall of the face of the earth. He's talked about moving to a foreign country and recreating himself before. After that, I imagine he'll reemerge and begin a successful career in politics. 
 
Q: What is the best advice (about football or life) anyone has ever given you?
A motto that I like to live by is "Don't give up the ship." This is an old navy saying that my grandfather loved to use, but it basically means that it's okay to get knocked down in life, but you've got to get up and keep fighting. In a football sense, it is related to the "bend but don't break" mentality that defensive players must have. It's alright it the opponent gains a few yards or converts a couple first downs, but you must not let them score.
 
Q: One thing most people don't know about me is that...
I've got a creative side, and I enjoy photography and drawing. Society doesn't always expect or encourage athletes to express themselves, but that makes it even more satisfying when I take a picture or draw something that I'm proud of. 
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