Kolton Miller is still a student.
His Roseville High School days are long past, and his UCLA classroom experiences are fading in the rear-view mirror, but Miller still takes daily notes, hauls a backpack and studies.
Man, does he study.
The Raiders first-round draft pick pores over the Oakland playbook at any opportunity. When he wakes up in the Marriott next to the Raiders facility in Alameda at 6 a.m., he peeks at the pages of formations. He references the book throughout meetings, and after conditioning drills, and during meals, and before bed.
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Knowledge, the old saying goes, is power, and this 6-foot-9, 310-pound tackle vows to be ready – mind and body – come minicamp in June and training camp in July.
"I'm spending as much time as I can with that playbook," Miller said this week. "I take it very seriously."
Does he feel pressure as the top pick, billed as the future protector of franchise cornerstone quarterback Derek Carr? Of course, but he admits so in measured tones.
"There's pressure to do well, yes," said Miller, whose signing was announced Friday. "Everyone feels pressure right now. It's a process, and right now for me, it's learning the playbook. This is prep work. This is learning. You really don't earn your playing spot until training camp. The weight isn't bearing down on me right now."
Miller said he has not paid attention to fans who went to social media to bemoan the Raiders going with a tackle instead of a defensive player. The Raiders already have an established left tackle in Donald Penn, but the three-time Pro Bowler has endured injuries.
Shortly after the Raiders selected Miller, Penn tweeted, "MORE MOTIVATION." The post has since been deleted.
Explained Raiders coach Jon Gruden during Miller's introductory news conference, "Donald Penn is still on our football team and he’s still rehabbing his foot injury. Donald has been a very good player for the Raiders, a guy that I coached in Tampa, know extremely well. This has nothing to do with Donald Penn.
"This is about the future of the Oakland Raiders. We have an outstanding young quarterback. We have a need at the position and we were fortunate to address it, but it doesn’t really say anything to Donald Penn.”
He said Miller has the versatility to play right or left tackle.
“He’s got a huge upside at a position that’s very hard to find, and in the AFC West right now, the people that you have to block, Kolton, I hate to break it to you, but they’re pretty good," Gruden said.
Raiders line coach Tom Cable was high on Miller leading up to the draft. He instructed Miller to work on certain techniques this spring, and last week when rookies were free from team obligations, Miller sought out a familiar mentor.
Miller worked with Jon Osterhout, the American River College coach and director of the Linemen Win Games camp, which Miller has been involved in since his sophomore year at Roseville.
Miller has become so close to Osterhout that he invited him to the NFL draft green room in Dallas. He also invited his Roseville coach, Larry Cunha. The coaches accepted.
"I worked with Jon one-on-one on some of the things Cable wanted me to address, and it's always good to have someone you really appreciate and trust," Miller said.
Said Osterhout, "Kolton's already a consummate pro. It's part of his DNA, that lunch-pail mentality. There's a bond and connection we have, and I was glad to work with him.
"He's a sponge, and he's a grinder in every regard. He's very diligent and very process-based on how to create the best version of himself. It's that simple. He's organized and detailed and has a plan for everything, and he does it with tremendous intention. What you see is what you truly get. He's locked in."
Osterhout laughed when reminded he told The Bee before the draft he would be surprised if Miller slipped past No. 15. He landed at 15.
"Isn't that unbelievable, No. 15?" Osterhout said. "He has all the intangibles, and he's a tremendous football player. These guys don't drop out of trees with sheer size and athleticism and want and desire. Guys get paid a lot of money in the NFL to not miss on picks. Oakland got a guy for the long term."
Miller said he is still numb over where he landed.
"I was just so happy to get drafted where I got drafted, and to have my family and coaches and friends to be so close to here – it's amazing," Miller said. "I'm two hours away from home, with a little bit of traffic, so it's awesome."
Miller's father, Dan, has a lot of friends who are Raiders fans. They're already plotting trips to training camp in Napa and home games.
Miller's mother, Karrie, had co-workers surprise her by remaking her desk with Raiders garb and a photo of Miller holding the No. 1 Raiders jersey. Miller said he is especially excited for his 16-year-old brother Chad, a Roseville student who treasures his brother's jersey handed out after the pick.
"Chad is a star at Roseville right now," Miller said of his brother who has Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition that mainly restricts facial expressions and eye movement. "He's got the Raiders gear going. Everyone is hitting him up at school, saying, 'Oh, wow! Saw you on TV!' He's living good right now."
Same for older brother, too.