Payton Miller leaves her mark on Rocky Top

UT Senior Payton Miller is known for her paintings on "The Rock," but soon she will leave her legacy behind as she graduates Saturday.

A University of Tennessee senior who has left her mark on Rocky Top is graduating this spring. 

Payton Miller first stepped foot on campus four years ago as a freshman with her story and years ahead as a blank canvas. 

She soon found her niche on campus during her sophomore year at "The Rock" on UT's campus. 

The biochemistry major has a knack for art and started off by showcasing her spray painting skills with a mural of rapper Lil Jon to get Vol nation motivated on "third down for what." 

"The first one was just kind of an adrenaline rush," Miller said. "Each one just became like me trying to top myself as an artist and trying to give football fans what they come looking for when they come by the rock." 

Soon after, her artwork on the rock became well-known around campus, with students looking forward to her paintings on game days. 

"She is kind of a mini celebrity," Ashley Rohr, a UT sophomore said, "Everybody knows who she is because of her paintings." 

Jack Peters, a UT junior said, "Before she started doing all this, it was just kind of like stick figure drawings, stuff like that. It wasn't really beautiful murals like she added to campus." 

Payton commemorated the major events on campus with her murals, painting people like Pat Summitt, Peyton Manning, Josh Dobbs, Jalen Hurd, Butch Jones, and of course, Smokey. 

Miller's fellow students said one of their favorites depicted Smokey punching a gator after UT beat Florida last fall. 

In total, Miller spray painted 30 murals, each one with its own story. Miller said her favorite one was the last one she left on the rock in April. It showed Smokey with a spray can under his paw with, a tree with engravings, and daisies. 

"It was pretty emotional, and it took 19 hours so I feel like I was living my whole life in that painting," she said. 

Payton Miller was named after another famous Vol, Peyton Manning. Now days away from graduation, the girl who painted a tribute to Peyton Manning is now known for her own work on campus. 

"Her legacy is huge, like the shoes that somebody has to fill for her, oh my gosh, it's huge," Rohr said.
 
Peters added, "I guess UT is just a very good school for Peytons." 
 
Miller is looking forward to a new blank canvas after college as she starts medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, but she'll always remember the place where she made her mark on Rocky Top. 
 
"I'm excited about possibly coming out of retirement for a game or two next year," she said, "so we'll see if that happens."

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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