Mullen is actually home to a former Husker of the last few years, offensive lineman Jake Andersen playing his prep career for the Mustangs. Jimmy Miller wouldn't mind following in Andersen's footsteps.
You might think it odd for someone who isn't from Nebraska or ever lived in Nebraska, to be a diehard Husker fan. But you don't have to look too far to find out the reason why. "My mom was born and raised in Nebraska," Jimmy said. "My dad is actually from upstate New York and went to Rhode Island. But I'd say he's a Husker fan now."
Jimmy caught onto the passion quickly enough, following the Huskers as a pre-teen, watching Ahman Green and just dreaming of trying to do some of the fantastic things he did. As Jimmy started to grow, though, both figuratively and literally, he started to see where his future would have to follow a different path.
"I used to idolize Ahman, and all I did was watch the skill guys, because that's what I wanted to play," he said. "But I stated to grow and well, I turned my attention toward the guys on the line. I figured that's what would be the best for me."
I can't imagine why he would have that idea. After all, he's only 6 foot, 3 and a half inches tall and he weighs just over 280 pounds. Sounds like a scat back to me.
As reality pushed Miller toward the line, he obviously pushed himself toward trying to get better at his chosen craft. The workouts in the gym certainly helped, but the camps were a big help as well. It was his chance to get to see how he matched up with some outstanding prep stars from around the country.
Nowhere did he probably run into better competition than in the one-on-one drills down in San Antonio, Texas for the U.S. Army All-American Junior Combine. With some 400+ kids in attendance, there were lots of opportunities to give as good as you got.
"The competition was definitely better and you get to go against some great players," Jimmy said. "I got beat sometimes, but I came back and beat them a few times myself. That's what is great about those things. You get to find out just where you are at."
Jimmy has had that opportunity as well, but in Lincoln, Nebraska, attending the annual Summer camps for the big red. Jimmy has attended all three years he's been in the high school ranks. From the coaches he has gotten to know, to what he's gotten to see, his affection for the Huskers isn't restricted to game days in front of the TV.
"In 2003 we were flying out for my grandmothers 80th birthday and that was right when Nebraska hired their new staff," Miller said. "I actually met coach Wagner (Dennis) in the airport as he was getting ready to head to Lincoln. It was nice getting to meet him then, and he was a great guy. And from my time camping there, I have really enjoyed being around him and the rest of the staff."
As Miller has developed physically and mentally, he's been slowly realizing that he is indeed a Division 1-A target. The letters he's getting from schools like Washington State, Illinois, Stanford, UCONN, Boston College, SMU, Florida, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Kansas State and Wisconsin, should prove that well enough. But he recently sent out his film, and Jimmy said that feedback has been very good.
"I contacted San Diego State after they had seen my film and they said they were probably going to offer. And Washington State sounds like they are really interested too. I have actually been down to Kansas State, and that was pretty nice, though I am sure my mom wasn't too thrilled."
You'll have to forgive Jimmy for having to discard (if just for a moment) the loyalty to the big red. He's certainly thinking about what it would be like to play in Lincoln, but more about what it's going to be like to play Division 1-A ball. With his approach Jimmy has the utmost confidence in himself, but he's still going to make sure that wherever he goes he can play.
"I believe in good technique, I come off the ball fast and I know how to not let my emotions get the best of me in a game," he said. "I don't think it's a matter of me thinking that I have what it takes. I know I do. I have faced some seriously good defensive linemen around the state here and I can hang with any of them.
But wherever I go, I want to make sure I can play, because I like Nebraska, but I don't want to go there just to go. I want to play and I know that because of my size and the size of a lot of the guys they are getting in, you just never know."
Jimmy knows that this world of football is a "size-matters" atmosphere, and the players just keep getting bigger and bigger every season. Where Nebraska used to live off of the brute strength of maulers, who weren't even Jimmy's height, those days are mostly gone. Now the guards are taller than the tackles used to be at Nebraska.
This Mullen standout doesn't care. He doesn't care how tall anyone is, and come on, it's not like being a tad over 6 foot 3 is short. "I don't let it discourage me, because I know what I can do," he said. "You need to be strong out there, aggressive and quick, but you need to have good feet, good hands and know how to play the game smart. It's about being aggressive, but being in control, and knowing what you are doing. I'm very confident in my ability to do that."
This year could be a different one for Miller as he could end up playing on both sides of the line. At schools like Mullen, they have the size that doesn't necessitate them having to have a lot of players go both ways. But playing along the interior on offense, Miller might get to do the same on defense, as the Mustangs try to erase the title-game loss to Columbine, and finish the season off right.
As to the recruiting, Jimmy says that patience is key, because time is on his side. "I have to make sure that the situation is right and that I just wait and see what happens," he said. "I just sent out my tape and I have gotten some good feedback on it already. It's exciting and you want things to happen quickly, but I'm just going to try and enjoy it for what it is."
As for Nebraska, should the offer come from the big red? "My mom would probably tell you that I would commit right away, but again, I want to make sure it's right for me," he said. "If there is a spot for me, and I think I will fit in there and get my chance to prove myself, that would be amazing.
But there are a lot of schools that I like right now, including Washington State and San Diego State. There's still so much to see."
Watch highlights from Jimmy's Junior season
- Clip 1
- Clip 2