TAMPA, FLA. — After playing for both Florida State University and the University of Tampa, utility infielder Darren Miller believes hype, not competition, is the biggest difference between the Division I and II programs.
As a child, he believed the hype, watching Seminoles games on TV and dreaming of playing at the next level while practicing baseball with his father.
“That’s a big reason why I came here,” Miller said, at the University of Tampa stadium before practice on Wednesday. “The big difference between Division I and Division II is hype.”
“It’s less hype. We get a lot more work done down here. It’s more personal based. Smaller guys. Smaller team. A lot less things to worry about.”
Miller joined the Spartans after his two-year campaign at FSU ended. Although DII lacks the big program allure that drew him in as a child, he finds the Spartans have reputable coaches and a fruitful program.
“We got a lot of coaches here who really know what they’re doing,” Miller said. “We (also) get some help from some Major League guys.”
Coach Joe Urso deals with the DI to DII transfer process almost every year. He confirms there’s a learning curve.
“It’s not easier,” Urso said. “Division II baseball, especially at the level we play at, is just as tough as most of the Division I programs. And, that’s the biggest thing for them to understand. The competition here.”
As a sophomore, Miller started in 25 games and hit .229 on the season at FSU. He had one home run and 14 runs batted in. He posted an on-base percentage of .375 and stole three bases.
Urso says his UT infielder struggled when he first pulled on a Spartan jersey.
“He got off to a really slow start and he wasn’t even playing every day and now he’s starting to relax and come into his own. He had a couple doubles for us last night. A couple home runs over the weekend. So things are starting to happen.”