Donovan Miller was a pep band drummer simply trying to fill some dead air.
What was a routine request during a second-half timeout of Saturday’s Kansas-West Virginia basketball game turned into an online sensation.
“All I’ve heard is that I’m a legend,” Miller, a fifth-year senior from Woodbury, Minnesota, said. “I’ve heard it multiple times in the last couple days.”
This Kansas drummer was BRINGING IT pic.twitter.com/XzVRwILd9B— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 16, 2019
It began with a request from Assistant Director of Bands Sharon Toulouse, who asked Miller to start playing along to the fight song during a timeout.
“I can tell him to just go, and he goes nuts filling time that otherwise would have been silent, and I know without a doubt he’ll make it entertaining,” Toulouse said in an email to the Kansan. “He brings a flare to the songs we play that catch the attention of the students and crowd.”
A wide-eyed Miller broke into rhythm with passion, and ESPN’s live broadcast caught him in the middle of the action, right as the song’s beat was gaining momentum.
“At that moment, … it was going a lot faster than I thought it would,” Miller said. “But I was just told to go, so I just went for it, and that moment was created.”
Miller realized he was on the jumbotron about halfway through the chant, but he was unaware he made it on ESPN until someone reached out and told him.
“I was like, 'what?'... I freaked out,” Miller said.
“The last time we received that kind of media attention was when we played with Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Champion’s Classic in 2017,” Toulouse said.
Apart from basketball band, Miller is a jazz major involved with a few jazz ensembles and the marching band. He joined basketball band and the marching band this year.
“I was thrilled when I heard he was going to be joining our ranks, so he could bring that energy and hype to the band,” Toulouse said.
Miller also plays in a band called Glass Bandit. They frequently play shows at The Bottleneck and Jazzhaus in downtown Lawrence.
“I just want to continue to play music. Music is my passion. I love it,” Miller said. “I want to make it my career if I can.”
He said the past few days of his music career have been unexpected and cool.
“It’s a fleeting moment that will be ingrained in our memories forever,” Toulouse said.