What do you play for? Is it fame, fortune, titles, awards? Do you play because you simply love the game? The motivations for most players will differ to a degree in just what they want every time they take the field. Highland Spring high school's, Jarrell Miller has motivation, but some of it is instilled.
"My linebacker coach, he talked about linebackers and how they were taking the field, thinking that this was their way out of the ghetto," Jarrell said. "He said that he would just get mad as heck by the time he got on the field and he just thought about whatever he could that would make him even more mad."
"His mother was sick, the other players were just annoying him to death or whatever, by the time the game started, it was game-time."
Miller uses similar motivation himself, but like most true defensive players, he's already got that part of him that changes once his cleats touch the field. It's a switch that Miller loves turning on. "You've got to love being out there and just laying it to people," he said. "Come running across that field, daring anyone to try and run your way."
"I'm not an angry person at all, but I like to think I play angry out there, because that's how our coach wants us to be; just mad at everyone on the other side."
Whether it's anger, athleticism or both that motivates Miller, it was good enough to earn a bevy of honors last season. All-District, All-Region and second-team All-State, Jarrell didn't waste any of the time he had on the field. For Miller, though, last year was just the beginning.
Sure, 68 tackles, 10 of those for loss, one sack, two quarterback pressures, one pass break up, three forced fumbles, two of them he recovered, is impressive, but there's only one thing that impresses Miller when the dust settles.
The precious present.
"That's what coach calls the title," Miller said of head coach, Scott Burton's reference to winning it all. "It's the drive for the precious present and that's what we are all thinking about right now."
Miller hasn't gotten what his coach refers to as the precious present just yet, but for any aspiring football player, hoping it to make it to the next level, he's gotten a few presents already that are pretty nice as well.
6 of them actually, those being
written offers from
"It's a blessing," Miller said of the offers. "There's just not that many that can say they have this and a chance to get an education and play football in college. I am really blessed to have this, but that just means I have to work harder than I ever have before."
That's another aspect of Jarrell's attitude that fans will love in that even when he has the prize in his hands, he's not planning on enjoying it for long. Even at the young age these high school students are, Miller knows that in sports, it's not about what you did, but what you are about to do. "You can't rest and be too happy about what you accomplished," he said. "There's another year to play and if you are lucky, a lot of years, but you only have that if you treat every year like you did nothing the year before."
"Nobody else is resting out there, because they are trying to beat you, so you have to keep it going until you aren't playing anymore."
Of the offers he's gotten, being
a native of
"It's fun to think about going somewhere far away and experiencing new things," he said. "A different life, maybe a little different people – that's interesting to think about going someplace that's not at all like where I am at."
"With all the offers and different kinds of places, it's something to think about when I am looking at my future. But, I don't know too much about all that right now."
What Miller does know about the
closest schools comes from having an innate familiarity with each. He's visited
both Tech and
Jarrell said, though, that he's hoping that's just the beginning of a busy summer to come. "I'd like to go to camps at all those places if I can," he said. "Really, I'd like to visit every place that offered me and get to see what they are like, the campus and all that."
"I doubt if I will, but if I get the chance, I'll go wherever I can to learn as much as I can before the season starts."
It's saying something to be
considered one of the best prospects in the state of
It's going to take a lot, but other than his impressive physical ability, Miller has that intangible that won't let him fail, no matter what.
"Step on that field and it's time to bring it," he said. "I don't like you and every time I hit you, I want the crowd to react. That's what our coaches preach and that's what we do. It's you or me and I know it's not going to be me."