Southern hospitality is not to be taken lightly. Lane Kiffin found that out the hard way during an in-home recruiting visit back in 2001.
A Southern California assistant at the time, he turned down a meal prepared by the mother of Edmond Miles, a four-star prospect from Tallahassee, Florida. Debbie Miles didn’t take kindly to the action of a man who’s become a character in the profession.
“In the South, when they’re offering you food, it’s respectful if you take it, especially if you make the dinner. My mom didn’t like him after that,” Ed Miles recalled.
The Trojans were competing with Iowa and Arkansas for his services. Hawkeye assistant Phil Parker did the right thing while visiting the Miles’ home.
“He accepted the dinner and the next thing you look and he’s doing dishes with my mom. He must have stayed for a couple of hours. She really fell in love with him. My relationship with Phil just grew. I knew it was the right decision to come to Iowa,” Ed Miles said.
Kiffin’s perceived rudeness wasn’t the reason Miles passed on attending USC, but Parker’s in-home comfort paved the path to Iowa City. He stood out on special teams before starting for two seasons at linebacker. He went on to a career in the NFL.
These days, Miles resides in Cedar Rapids with his wife, Lindsay, and their two daughters, Olivia (8) and Hazel (18 months). He serves as the Marion (IA) Linn-Mar High defensive coordinator and a student supervisor at the school.
Edmond and Lindsay, who grew up in Preston, Iowa, met while freshmen in college. When Ed’s NFL career ended in ’10 due to knee injuries, they moved back to Iowa.
The Miami Dolphins signed him as an undrafted free agent in ’07. He played there for a year and spent the next season with the New York Giants. The following campaign saw him in Atlanta, where he suffered his knee injuries. He almost signed with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos in ’10 but couldn’t finalize a deal.
During his time in professional football, Miles volunteered his time working with troubled youngsters. That led him to his first post-football job at Tananger Place in Cedar Rapids, a facility that provides the tools and support when mental health challenges disrupt the well-being of children.
He spent four years there working at the juvenile detention center and at life connection as an in-home counselor. He then stepped away, in part, because he was raising his own family. It proved difficult, at times, not bringing home emotions brought on by tough cases at work.
He wouldn’t change that time, however. It often rewarded him.
“The joy of it is when you are able to see the growth and the changes within the client you’re working with and knowing you had an impact on that individual to make better decisions, to understand how to control their emotions and manage their emotions and anger,” he said.
Miles, 33, then ended up working for two years selling cars for a business owned by a former Hawkeye teammate, Gavin McGrath. He enjoyed the competitive nature of the business and meeting many interesting people. It was during this time that the football itch returned.
He knew he wanted to get back into the game. He set a goal of coaching in Division I college football. He received advice from Parker and began at Linn-Mar for the ’16 season. When new head coach Paul James took over before last fall, he promoted Miles to defensive coordinator.
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“I was doing other things, but football has always been in my blood. It’s something I know I’m good at and something I know that I can help others at. Coaching high school ball I’m hoping will jumpstart my career. If it leads to bigger opportunities, hopefully it does, that’s all positive,” he said.
He’s tying in his love for the sport with the gratification of helping youth off the field. His role in the student support services serves an important function at the school.
Coaching has opened his eyes to the job his coaches performed. He’s been challenged to create game plans and teach them to his players.
“I have to step back sometimes and find ways to get these guys to understand exactly what I’m saying and what I’m trying to accomplish and what I want them to accomplish,” he said.
It’s not unlike what Miles experienced upon his arrival at Iowa. The No. 21 outside linebacker nationally in his recruiting class according to Rivals, it took time figuring out the play book.
He stood out on special teams as a redshirt freshman in ’03, when the Hawkeyes won 10 games and beat Florida in the Outback Bowl. The Sporting News named him to its all-Big Ten freshmen team and he took home the team’s special teams’ hustle award.
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In ’04, he started two games at outside linebacker, recording two sacks, and was named Iowa’s special teams player of the year. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten and knocked off an LSU team coached by Nick Saban in the Capital One Bowl.
Miles took over as the full-time starting outside linebacker in ’05, running alongside all-Big Ten performers Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway. He finished with 68 tackles (9 for loss), a sack, seven quarterback hurries, an interception, four pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Hodge and Greenway had graduated, leaving Miles as the linebacker leader in ’06. He ranked second on the team with 100 tackles, including 11 for loss. He added a sack, broke up two passes and forced a fumble.
Miles was frustrated at times waiting to become a full-time starter on defense, but he knew his chance would come. In the meantime, he excelled on special teams.
“I really enjoyed special teams. People now look at special teams like you can’t play. But if you’re a special teams player, especially at Iowa, you know the impact that special teams has on the game,” he said.
His two most memorable games occurred during his junior season. Iowa knocked off Purdue under the lights in West Lafayette, 34-17, breaking open a close game in the fourth quarter. Miles helped seal the deal with an interception batted into his hands by Greenway in the end zone.
Later that year, Iowa won at rival Wisconsin, 20-10, on what the Badger State governor had declared Barry Alvarez Day for the head coach who was retiring after 16 seasons. The Hawkeyes held productive running back Brian Calhoun to 18 yards on 15 carries and Miles ended up with 1.5 tackles for loss.
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More than the on-field competition, Miles remembers most fondly the relationships formed in college. He became especially close with classmates Marcus Paschal, Miguel Merrick, Calvin Davis, Jason Manson and Jovon Johnson, bonds that have continued strengthening over time.
“Also the fans and environment there still stays with me. The fans’ love for Iowa football is unbelievable. I met a lot of good people through networking during my time at Iowa,” he said.
Miles feels fortunate to have played for a fan favorite in late defensive coordinator Norm Parker. When Parker visited him during recruiting, he challenged Miles, an accomplished wrestler, to show him what he had on the mat.
The relationship grew from there. A funny memory remained with Miles.
He, Hodge and Greenway were watching film with Parker, who normally would rewind plays numerous times, pointing out different things each time through. On this occasion, the film just kept running. They looked at each other then at Parker.
“He was out,” Miles recalled with a laugh.
Their laughs woke up Parker.
“He said when you get that old, you start sleeping and you don’t even know it. I love Norm. He was a great guy and a great mentor,” Miles said.
He also connected with head coach Kirk Ferentz, who jokes with him when seeing him these days, saying Miles looks like he could still play. Miles thanks him but admits he could only give him one good play on his balky knees.
Ferentz is entering his 20th season running the Hawkeye program. While the world changes, Miles appreciates the stability at his alma mater.
“The main thing that I respect about Iowa and Coach Ferentz is that they take care of their own. They really do. I really respect that,” he said.