As a former research assistant and now a research associate with the Real Estate Center (part of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University), Wesley Miller has spent almost a year tackling topics from border economics to the effects of globalization on Texas manufacturing.
But it wasn’t too long ago that he was tackling wide receivers as a safety for the Buffalo Bills and playing professional football internationally.
Miller, who joined the Real Estate Center full time in fall 2017 and is working toward a Ph.D. in economics, began his ride to the NFL while playing football at the University of Texas at El Paso. The California native was working on a master of science in economics at the time.
[ PHOTO by JP Beato III – REAL ESTATE CENTER ]“UTEP had some good academic programs, and they gave me my best opportunity football-wise,” Miller said. “My first goal at the time was football.”
After UTEP’s Pro Day, when scouts watch players work out and evaluate them as draft prospects, Miller wasn’t signed to a team. However, he was invited to the Bills’ rookie mini-camp. That’s where his professional sports career began.
“They usually have about 20 new players that they’ve signed, and they need more players just to run a practice,” he said. “So they invite other potential rookies or seniors coming out of college to run a practice or mini-camp for a weekend. Most of the time you’re not offered a position, because the roster limit is 90, and usually those are filled before rookie camp. That’s what happened with the Bills, but when I got there, I impressed them. They cut some guy and signed me.”
Miller completed his masters while playing for the Bills. He was with them through the third preseason game, about four months. The following year, he moved to Germany to play football for the Saarland Hurricanes.
“Football’s big in Europe,” Miller said, “and the most hardcore fans I’ve ever met are German.”
After his stint with the Hurricanes, Miller returned to the States and settled in College Station, where his fiancée, Jessica Smith, is currently a veterinary student at Texas A&M. He was hired as a research assistant and later as a research associate at the Real Estate Center. His position there coincided with his decision to pursue a Ph.D. in economics. He’s on track to finish his degree in 2022.
Although much of Miller’s research with the Center has focused on international economics, he says he’s particularly interested in housing markets.
“I’d like to research the positive and negative impacts homeowners’ associations have on housing markets,” he said. “There’s not much data out there, but with the resources available at the Center, I think there’s some meaningful research to be done. I’m also interested in public sector economics and politics. Every day, important decisions are made that have economic consequences that need to be evaluated.”
Miller says the special thing about economics is the flexibility it provides a researcher. “You can create an economic tie to almost anything.”
Miller’s latest article, which he co-authored with Real Estate Center Research Economist Luis Torres, is called “Globalization’s Effects on Texas Housing.” It’s available online.
– By Bryan Pope, associate editor, Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University