Today@Sam Article

Bearkat Bronc Rider Bucks Into Arlington

March 7, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins


Huntsville native and Sam Houston State University junior Bradlee Miller has had rodeo in his DNA since the day he was born. As the son of Edward “Bubba” Miller, legendary SHSU rodeo coach, he has also boasted Bearkat blood from the age of four.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been engulfed in the sport of rodeo. It’s the environment I grew up in,” Bradlee said. “My closet has been orange my whole life and my plan was always to be a Bearkat. Now, I am living that dream.”

During his time at Sam, the 20-year-old has distinguished himself as one of the most prominent bareback horse riders not only at the collegiate level, but in the entire world. Currently ranked third in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), he finds himself with an opportunity to win a million dollars competing at The American Rodeo at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas March 8-9.

“The professional rodeos are definitely a different setting,” said Bradlee, who has competed in hundreds of events at the highest level since joining the PRCA two years ago. “It has been my dream for so long, and now I get to live it out. It’s such a surreal moment whenever I look up in the stands at a major event and know that I used to be the kid sitting up there waiting for my day. Now that I’m here, it’s almost unimaginable.”

Meanwhile, in those same stands, his father and lifelong coach has a harder time keeping his composure.

“As a dad in the bleachers, I am amped up from the get-go,” Bubba Miller said. “I get way more nervous than he does. He is calm, cool and collected until it’s his turn, then he switches it on.”

From a coaching perspective, he has seen hard work personified in his son during his rise to the top of the sport. 

“Bradlee has really turned a corner and entered a league of his own,” Bubba said. “His competitiveness and will to win is a humungous part of his drive. He has always been one to dedicate the time it takes to be successful in the arena.”

“I am really fortunate to have him as a dad and a coach,” Bradlee said. “He has never pushed me to rodeo or not rodeo, he has just always been my biggest supporter no matter what I’m doing. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without him.”

When he entered SHSU as a freshman, Bradlee’s initial goal was to compete in bull riding. He was able to do just that at a high level in his first year, earning top ranks in the southern region.

“I really didn’t excel at bareback riding at first,” he said. “But I was dealing with some head injuries going into my sophomore year, so I had to progress in a new category if I wanted to make a name for myself. I really engaged myself into it and gave it all my heart.”

In just two years at the PRCA level, he has won the Homestead Championship Rodeo in Florida, the Cinch World’s Toughest Rodeo in Iowa, the Battle Born Broncs competition in Nevada and the XIT Rodeo & Reunion in Dalhart, Texas. He was also the co-champion of the Black Hills Round Top competition in South Dakota.

Bradlee Miller (left) and Bubba Miller

“This year, I have had more success than I ever could have dreamed of or imagined,” Bradlee said. “I try not to let it get to my head or in the way of what I’m trying to accomplish.”

Both of the Millers are also keenly aware of the broader picture in terms of what Bradlee’s accomplishments mean to the continued success of SHSU’s prestigious rodeo program. He is another notch in the storied history of the most dominant collegiate rodeo squad in the country.

“Belonging to a program like this makes you want to win so much more,” Bradlee said. “The people who came before us worked their tails off to make us who we are and we just want to keep that tradition alive.”

“The achievements of our students are a continued process,” Bubba said. “We are recruiting the best student-athletes in the nation who get the best education we can possibly offer. Now, with our new training facility and workout programs, that will only continue to grow. We will continue to see world champions develop and establish that groundwork here while they’re at the university.”

Despite everything that’s at stake, Bradlee Miller will saddle up in Arlington with the comfort of everlasting confidence and support from his family and university as he attempts to make history in the world he has always known best.

“Nothing changes, it’s just another rodeo. The horse doesn’t know any different, so you can’t really change your mindset, either,” he said. “If it works out and I win the million dollars, it would obviously be life changing. But it’s really just another chance to do what I love.”

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