University of Kansas

What’s it like to get coached by your dad in college? This KU fullback can tell you

Ben Miles on if he’s faced pressure growing up as Les Miles’ son

Kansas Jayhawks fullback Ben Miles is asked if he's faced pressure growing up as Les Miles' son. Ben spoke to reporters on Sept. 3, 2019 at the KU football complex.
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Kansas Jayhawks fullback Ben Miles is asked if he's faced pressure growing up as Les Miles' son. Ben spoke to reporters on Sept. 3, 2019 at the KU football complex.

Here’s the question that everyone wants to know with Ben Miles: What’s it like to play with your dad as the coach?

He smiles when giving his response, saying the experience is awesome ... for the most part.

“It’s fun getting coached by your dad sometimes,” Miles said. “Sometimes It’s hard.”

This is the new reality for Miles — 6-foot-1 and 242 pounds — while adjusting to life at KU after transferring from Texas A&M.

The main reason for his move? A family reunion, as he’s now together with both his father, Les, and brother, Manny, in Lawrence.

Both relationships are different from what they’ve been in the past.

Ben Miles, as a fullback, gets extensive coaching instruction from his dad, who takes great interest in the details of KU’s running game. At practice, that means Les Miles is often standing behind the offense, watching each play then pulling Ben to the side to give specific instruction when needed.

“He definitely knows what he’s talking about when he coaches fullbacks especially,” Ben said. “I said this in another interview: If you want to specialize in a piece of a run game — take (that he’s) my dad out of it — who better than Les Miles? Just him being my dad is even better.”

Ben also has never been on the same team as Manny, a quarterback who is three years older. He says he’s enjoyed those instances when he’s lined up behind Manny in drills, and a few times, he’s even caught passes from him.

Receiving, though, is clearly the lesser part of Ben’s role. His main objective is serving as a lead blocker — a task he’s enjoyed since he started playing fullback early on.

The best part of the job, he says, is being able to provide a big hit that can fire up teammates.

“It’s a team-oriented position,” Ben said, “and I love that about it.”

He’s been doing this for awhile. Ben grew up admiring fullbacks in his dad’s LSU offense, and his lack of height also naturally transitioned him to the rarely used position.

“I’m sure if I was 6-5, I would likely play tight end or defensive end or give me a jump ball,” Ben said. “But you kind of see what you are. From high school, I chose the decision to be in a program with a fullback, so that I could get recruited to play fullback and work on my craft.”

Ben — Rivals’ third-ranked fullback nationally out of high school — began his college career at Nebraska before transferring to Texas A&M. He was able to play at KU this season because of an NCAA rule allowing immediate eligibility for walk-on transfers.

KU has utilized him right away. Ben played 19 of 70 offensive snaps in the opener, according to Pro Football Focus, while delivering his most effective blocks during an extended KU drive in the second quarter.

“When you’re watching a run game, a lot of times, it’s the fullback’s job to make it right,” Ben said. “Quarterbacks always gotta get coached, but in run game, fullbacks always have to get coached (too), because if there’s an issue sometimes, we’re that free hitter that can make the play work anyway.

“And a lot of times, the back’s following you, so you have to make the first right cut, the first right read.”

Les had this assessment of his younger son after game one: “Tough kid, plays hard, and will continue to improve.” Ben also believes KU, which netted 103 rushing yards against Indiana State, will have better days ahead offensively.

“I thought we showed that we can have a good run game,” Ben said. “But I think we definitely need to cut down some errors that cause a lot of negative plays.”

Ben will have an opportunity to grow alongside his teammates. Though leaving Texas A&M was difficult, Ben said — in the end — the chance to strengthen an important position on KU’s roster while also joining his family was too good of a scenario to pass up.

“I took a lot from from that (Texas A&M) program,” Ben said. “But really, as summer winded down and as football came, there was a need for me in this program. And it was a need for me to go home.”

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.
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