Sun Devils Nab Sleeper JC Defensive Lineman

With letter of intent day fast approaching Arizona State was able to once again fill their need at defensive line with another player from the junior college ranks. In this exclusive and breaking news feature, DevilsDigest talked to the defensive tackle's coach about ASU's latest commit, who verbaled to the Devils late Monday afternoon.

Madrid Miller is a 6-4 275 standout from Contra Costa College in San Pablo, CA. The defensive lineman was elected to JCFootball.com's 2002 and 2003 first team All-Bay Valley Conference teams.

Contra Costa's head coach, Jose Ortega, was elated that his player chose the Sun Devils, especially due to the fact that Ortega attended the Tempe school. "Being a Sun Devil is wonderful!" exclaimed Ortega, "The ASU coaches worked very hard on recruiting Madrid and it showed. I'm very good friends with (ASU QB's coach) Mark Helfrich. He and all the ASU coaches are good and honest people."

If you don't recall Miller being one of the official visitors during ASU's recruiting trips, rest assure that your memory isn't betraying you. Indeed, the defensive lineman never did visit the Valley of the Sun, and his only two official visits were to Division II-A schools. In light of that fact, how did Miller ultimately settle on the Sun Devils? "Because I know Tempe so well," said Coach Ortega, "I could tell him a lot about the area. We have 92% of our players transfer to other schools. Our guys trust us for good decisions. So, I knew if I told him that he should commit to ASU he would do it."

As is the case with every sleeper prospect, the question arises why so many programs overlook him. Ortega says that they're several reasons for that. "Last spring, " he recalled, "ASU and other schools looked at him. He played defensive end for us and he was making spectacular plays. But even though he was 275lbs, the way he was built, he looked like he was barely 250 lbs. So schools thought he was too small."

"He's 24," continued Ortega, "He didn't play football for four years. He also was injured a lot. He had an ankle sprain, tore ligament…he just had a lot of bad luck. The film shows him hobbled all the time, and that hurt his recruiting." Despite all the adversity that Miller faced, his coach couldn't be prouder of how he carried himself. "He didn't miss a snap," Oretga said. "He's a classy hard working guy. I know ASU is gonna love him."

The Contra Costa skipper mentioned that in Miller's sophomore year, the team employed a 3-5 defense. Thus, Miller was playing both defensive end and tackle. Ortega wanted to make sure that schools out there would recognize his lineman's versatility. "I put together some great film," he said. "You see Madrid playing defensive tackle, getting off the ball…that made a lot of schools take another look at him." Ortega mentioned that Miller sports a 35-inch vertical and runs a 5.0.

Naturally, one of those films made its way to coach Helfrich, as well as coaches from Oregon State, Iowa State, and local school San Jose State. "Coach Helfrich and ASU jumped on him first," said Ortega. "Schools like San Jose really dropped the ball. Iowa State and Oregon have already been here, and wanted Miller to visit. But we gave our word to ASU and that's it."

Madrid Miller has three years to play two. He has a 3.3 GPA, and needs just 15 credits to get his AA degree in May. Coach Ortega stated that his now former player is just "scratching the surface with his ability." Undoubtedly, Sun Devil fans can't wait to see what this defensive lineman can do to shore up the team's front four in the next few years.

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