Location: West Craven High School
Final Score: West Craven 41 Orange 14
Gerard Miller Evaluation: When you see #84, there's no question who it is because the physique stands out to everyone. Gerard's physically ready to play defensive end in college right now, standing a solid 6'3 and in the 260 pound range. His frame can easily carry another 20-30 pounds and with a strong off-season in the weightroom, he could actually add that weight before arriving in Raleigh. Physically he resembles current NC State defensive end Maurice Charles (who also may grow into a defensive tackle) and also compares favorably to "Mo" in how he plays. Miller projects nicely as a defensive tackle in college and a fine one at that.
On defense, West Craven plays Miller on the edge, often times at weakside defensive end. Orange did a good job of running away from Miller, using the Wing-T offense effectively in the first half to try and neutralize Gerard and his stout defensive line teammates. Miller sheds linemen with ease, using an above-average swim move and a developing spin move off the edge. He also does a good job of keeping his head up and eyes in the backfield, watching the play develop so he can flow to where the ball ends up. That's what may be most impressive about him... his football smarts and nstincts. Miller knows how to play the game and like Maurice Charles, is just a playmaker.
Combined with his natural instincts is the passion and leadership Gerard plays with. The #1 seeded Eagles played a subpar first half, in fact they trailed Orange 14-7 at halftime with the Tigers receiving the ball to begin the second half. Before the first play, Miller lets out a huge roar and let's EVERY player on the defense know how important it is to get a stop right then. Of course, the Eagles force a three-and-out and hold Orange to only two first-downs in the entire second half. Gerard continued to pump up his teammates and play inspired himself, seemingly taking it as a challenge to not give up another point in the game... and they did just that. He's the leader of a VERY good West Craven defense... a defense that can carry the Eagles to a state championship.
What can't go overlooked in his game is the natural athleticism, quickness, and speed that Gerard possesses. Timed at a freakish 4.67 in the 40-yard dash, Miller has very good "football speed," consistently beating his man around the corner. He used his quickness to run down two rushing plays from the backside, coming around the corner to catch the running back before he gained a yard. Gerard did a good job of leaping cut-blocks, using his hands to shield fullbacks, and just staying in on every play. He doesn't take plays off, going 100% on defense and offense (he played the entire game as tight end on offense). As stated earlier, Miller's just a playmaker and not your typical high school "prospect."
Areas he can improve on? Well, like most speed rushers, Miller can be drawn offsides, as he was twice on Friday night. He's so intent on reaching the quarterback that a saavy QB can catch him leaving early on occasion. With coaching (and discipline) that can easily be corrected. Also, to play inside he's going to have to put on weight and keep getting stronger, but with his body-type that too shouldn't be a problem.
Final Stats: Gerard finished the night with 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Both tackles for loss came from running down sweeps to the other side, with his sack coming off a speed rush around the edge. A solid night for Miller as he also played on offense, collecting five pancake blocks from the Tight End position.
Final Analysis: Without a doubt, Gerard's a top-10 prospect in the state of North Carolina this season... he actually could be top-5. I've seen Marque Hall, Demario Pressley, Jamaal Edwards, and Andre Brown among others. As far as pure college prospect, Miller's on par with each of them. In a year when offers were hard to come by, the NC State staff put forth the effort to land this gem early, and it could be big that they did so before the Shrine Bowl week, which may be a coming out party for Miller. Gerard's a "motor" guy who gives all his effort in every play, and for a high school kid with nothing left to prove that is sometimes a rare trait. His upside is huge, and with another 20-30 pounds he will be a pass-rushing terror at rush defensive tackle for the NC State Wolfpack.
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