Christian Miller: Living on the Edge

It may have surprised a lot of people that Columbia, South Carolina Spring Valley 4-star linebacker Christian Miller committed to the University of Florida this past weekend. It wasn't a surprise for Miller who said he had a good idea it would happen before he ever visited for Junior Day on Saturday. Miller does have this ability to surprise folks and likes living on the edge.

The son of former University of South Carolina Gamecock great Corey Miller, Christian Miller spent a lot of time watching Florida football in the last couple of years and knew what playing Florida defense was all about.

His proximity to the campus in Columbia and his legacy as the son of a former star player meant the Gamecocks were likely the team to beat. However, the Gators had a few things going for them.

"I didn't grow up a Gator fan," Miller said by phone on Monday a couple of days after committing to the Gators on a visit. "I liked the Gamecocks. I just watched Florida and am very familiar with them. I do have family that lived in Florida. I had a grandmother that passed away that lived there and an uncle that just moved away from Orlando, Florida.

Even more than family being close, the style of defense run by head coach Will Muschamp is something that caught the attention of Miller for the last couple of years.

"I am a 3-4 outside linebacker," Miller said. "That is what I am really fit to do. What is cool about Florida is that they run multiple defenses. Coach Muschamp is a defensive minded head coach. Even when they switch up and run a nickel they can still use me. I want to pass rush, that is what I am good at. They will have me pass rushing 80% or more of the time. The cool thing is that I will also be able to play off the ball, a stacked linebacker when I need to. I am comfortable with that too. That will give me good exposure for the NFL scouts seeing me play both ways."

"I watched a lot of games like the LSU game and the Tennessee game. I just feel like they play at a high level of intensity. They play fast and physical. They have multiple packages and it is real hard for an offense to be ready.

"I am a versatile guy. It just sounds good for them to be able to move me around. I wouldn't want to be with my hand on the ground all the time, but I also wouldn't want to be just a regular outside linebacker, It works out best and is the best of both worlds.

A few weeks ago a move happened in the college football world and that move was highly significant in the eyes of one Christian Miller. Brad Lawing moved from being the defensive line coach at South Carolina to the assistant head coach and defensive line coach at Florida. Lawing also happened to coach Miller's father at South Carolina in the late 80's.

"When I first heard about Coach Lawing moving to Florida," Miller said. "I kind of knew that could turn into something. He was the one that was recruiting me to South Carolina and my coach said I would probably hear from him and the next day I did hear from him about that. I got excited when I heard that.

"It actually worked out perfect because when Coach Lawing moved there he moved to a defense that fits me better than where he was at before. That is when I started to realize that I could see myself possibly going there. Plus I knew Florida wasn't too far and I had family down there as well."

Still, Florida really just started picking up the recruitment of Miller shortly after Lawing came on board. That has been really about three weeks. They certainly would like the interest of a kid like Miller, but with the Lawing move, the recruitment picked up fast.

Miller visited Florida State the day before coming to Florida and had a nice trip. But, the guy that likes to live on the edge as a pass rusher knew something could go down quick in Gainesville. He thought about it as he and his father drove to Florida to see what being a Gator was all about.

"I had it in my mind thinking that if everything on campus felt right, I could go ahead and do it," he said. "I already knew academically they were great and athletically they fit the scheme that I fit in well with.

But, it still had to happen and things had to play out.

"I was with Coach Lawing almost all the time," he said. "I was kind of thinking in my head whether I still wanted to do it, I just had that mindset going down there. I want to play in the SEC and to win a national championship. I knew it was all possible at Florida.

I had it down to three schools in Alabama, Florida state, and Florida and couldn't go wrong with any of those. Being on (the Florida) campus I just felt it was the best fit for me."

After lawing was done walking around with him for most of the day, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin sat down with Miller and really showed him how they would use him in the Gator defense.

Coach Durkin was breaking down how they view me and how I would fit in the defense," he said. "While I was talking to him we were waiting to talk to Coach Muschamp. So after that was over I sat down with Coach Lawing, Coach Durkin, Coach Muschamp and my dad."

It is a good thing that Miller is kind of edgy. The guy that likes to surprise the quarterback seemed to catch Muschamp off guard as well.

"All of us went into Coach Muschamp's office," he said. "We sat down and he started talking some good stuff about me. He talked about five minutes and then asked if I had any questions. I said, ‘When can I commit?' he was surprised and said ‘well, you can do it now', so I said, "Yes sir, I would like to go ahead and commit to Florida.

"They jumped up and started shouting and slapping hands and hugging everybody. It was a real welcome. Seeing them fired up made me feel really good about it."

His father was pleased with the decision as well.

"My dad was excited and very happy for me," Miller said. "He told me he believes they were a good fit for me. Coach Lawing coached him too when he was at Carolina. He knows he will help me with my pass rush. He really liked Coach Muschamp and really thinks it is a good program and a good fit for me."

It really does seem like a perfect fit for the harassing style of play Florida likes on defense.

"They see me playing at the SAM linebacker with the 3-4 stuff," he said. "They say the thing about me is with my size and my length, I have a 6'-10" wing span, they like me at SAM but even when they switch packages, they will have a rapid package where they will take out a defensive tackle and I will move to an end and they can use my pass rush. They love my versatility so I can stay on the field with my pass rush ability and my range.

"My strength is my natural pass rushing, my height, length, and athleticism. It is hard to find someone with my height that can move like me."

He plans on being a major recruiter for this 2014 class, one that has gotten off to a great start thanks to his commitment and a hand full of others. He also wants Gator fans to know that he is all business when it is his time to report to campus in the summer of 2014.

"They can definitely expect me to go on campus, do what I am supposed to do in the classroom, get my work done, focus, and work hard," he said. "I am just thankful for the opportunity, so I will go in there and contribute to the team, because my dream and goal is to win a national championship and we can definitely do that at Florida. The potential is crazy with all the talent and coaching.

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