#15 Creighton Miller: Notre Dame Football’s Top 25 Players

Photo provided by Fighting Irish Media
Photo provided by Fighting Irish Media

#15 Creighton Miller, Halfback 1941-1943

Creighton Miller was the nephew of Don Miller, one of the Four Horsemen, and perhaps the first legacy player at Notre Dame.

Miller was a big back for his era, as he was 6’0” 195 pounds.

Miller was a confident guy and he liked golf. Each Spring he played golf at Notre Dame and skipped Leahy’s mildly intense spring practices. Now none of us can penetrate the mind and soul of Frank Leahy, but imagine him watching his charges on the practice field, sweating through another grueling spring session, while envisioning Creighton Miller selecting a niblick from his golf bag.

Miller was a standout halfback at Notre Dame under head coach Frank Leahy starting in 1941. He started as the key left halfback in the Notre Dame box until Leahy converted the offense to the split T in 1942. He rushed for 161 yards in a 1942 game against Northwestern University, a single-game school record that stood until 1974.[1]

A war was on, and Miller decided to enlist in the Army in the spring of 1943. His Army physical confirmed that he really did have hypertension, and he spent six weeks in a military hospital before receiving his discharge. He returned to Notre Dame, and with this latest news, Leahy was finally convinced that Miller was not concocting his ailment, so the two reached an agreement. Miller was to practice and practice hard, but if he felt tired or got dizzy he could rest. This was a major concession for Leahy. Miller and Notre Dame went on to have a great season in 1943.

In 1943, Creighton Miller led the nation in rushing with 911 yards. He scored 13 touchdowns. Miller also led the Irish with 6 interceptions, 7 punt returns for 151 yards and four kickoff returns for 53 yards. Miller came in fourth in Heisman Trophy voting (Angelo Bertelli was first) as Notre Dame finished with a 9–1 win-loss record and won the national championship.

Miller was a powerful swirling demon when the Irish plastered Fritz Crisler’s Michigan squad in a 35-12 rout in Ann Arbor. Crisler and his Maize and Blue defenses were overrun by Creighton Miller, who ran for 159 yards on 10 carries, notching two touchdowns.   Michigan was so traumatized that they didn’t play Notre Dame in Ann Arbor again until 1979.   The only blemish on the Irish record was a 19-14 loss to the US military, personified by the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and considered the finest running back to ever play for Frank Leahy.

Frank Leahy once gave Miller an autograph which said “To Creighton Miller-Those who say Gipp was the greatest, haven’t seen you play.” Frank Leahy.

Later, Leahy wrote to Miller: “I have often thought that if you had been born 10 or 12 years later, you, with that rarely seen unsurpassed ability would now have an extra million in your account and my coaching record would have been considerably lower.”

#15) Creighton Miller, Halfback 1941-1943
#16) Jaylon Smith, LB 2013-2015
#17) Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, ALL PURPOSE, 1988-1990
#18) Tom Clements, Quarterback, 1972-1974
#19) Chris Zorich, Nose Tackle, 1988-1990
#20) Aaron Taylor, Guard/Tackle, 1990-1993
#21) Nick Buoniconti, Linebacker/Guard, 1958-1961
#22) Ken MacAfee, Tight End, 1974-1977
#23) Bill “Moose” Fischer, Left Guard, 1945-1948
#24) Todd Lyght, Cornerback, 1987-1990
#25) Louis “Red” Salmon, Fullback, 1900-1903

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