Miller a Marked Man

Columbia, S.C. -- Christian Miller has noticed a big difference in the non-football department as a high school senior since committing to Alabama, whether it's being targeted by opponents, their coaches or SEC programs in the race for his signature. The edge talent breaks it down inside.

Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley cruised to another big win Friday night against a scrappy Blythewood (S.C.) program, 49-20, behind steady offense and a dominant defensive unit.

The latter is led by four-star Alabama commitment Christian Miller, who imposed his will throughout the night both on the stat sheet and in the Bengals' game plan with in attendance.

"They never ran to my side, they ran weak side the whole game," he said. "But my pass rush was working, I had three sacks and a bunch of pressures."

A bunch may be a dramatic understatement, it was well into the double-digits for the No. 6-rated outside linebacker prospect in America, who came off the edge during the majority of his snaps on defense. He was acquainted with Blythewood quarterback David Israel early and often and was sure to remind him of his plan to return soon after the last punishing hit he landed.

"I was just telling him that I'm going to keep coming at you and to not ease up," Miller said.

That was the extend of the talk from the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, but he received plenty of it from the Bengals and even their coaching staff all night long in addition to the usual target on his back physically.

"Even their coaches were talking to me, I don't talk junk on the field, they were saying that I wasn't doing anything and that they were shutting me down," he said. "The whole season people have been talking to me, late hitting, talking junk, trying to instigate."

Miller admits frustration with it at times, but always tries to keep his perspective in not retaliating.

Nike's "The Opening" helped Miller improve his edge rushing skill.

"It's hard not to, honestly," he said. "But I remember what I have in my future and what I have planned for me, I can't lose it by getting into a fight on the field or something."

Not lost in the back-and-forth was the senior's dominance. He flashed speed, power and new moves during many trips to the offensive backfield.

"I've gotten a whole lot better," he said. "I worked on my strength and moves over the summer and I was competing with the top guys, so I feel like that's benefited me a lot.

"My swim move has been working the best for me, I've developed a bull rush with power, too, so it's good to have things to mix it up with."

As one would imagine, it has the Alabama coaching staff excited about one of their top defensive commitments on the board in the class of 2014.

"I talk about red-shirting in college to get that extra year," Miller said. "They want me to come play right away, but I throw it out there that a year to develop could be beneficial to me."

The top player in the Palmetto State just took his SATs, so the next step is getting through the NCAA Clearinghouse so he can set up a return trip to Tuscaloosa.

"Then maybe official visits," he said. "I'm going to take just one, to Alabama, but I haven't set it up yet. We've talked about (taking it) after the season, so I'm kind of taking my time with that."

Despite his commitment, the talk Miller is dealing with isn't limited to high school players and coaches as the school he was once committed to and the school Alabama edged out for his pledge remain in pursuit of his signature.

"There's a lot of talk with people pursuing you, but it's just Georgia and Florida with Alabama," he said. "I barely hear from Florida, it's every now and then."

Adding in that he is "solid" in his commitment to Nick Saban and company, there could be a change in his role at the next level. He and the staff may both be embracing his strength as an edge rusher more than they were over the summer, when the plan was for Miller to play several linebacker spots for the No. 1 program in the country.

"They'v been running a lot of nickel and dime, so I'll be sliding down to an end position," he said. "That's what I do out here.

"They're (Alabama) looking good, I might as well get ready to work on my moves on the edge, so that's what it looks like I'm going to be doing a lot."

Miller, who said he would like to enroll at his school of choice at around 225 pounds, and Spring Valley are 7-0 on the season.

BamaMag Top Stories