Jarrell Miller Nearing Decision

SAN ANTONIO – Despite the potential stress of his upcoming college decision and an injury suffered a few days ago, Jarrell Miller is having a great time at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl's week-long festivities.

"I love it down here in Texas," Miller said. "Getting to eat, going to practice, and I love the weather."

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker arrived on Monday and suffered a groin injury early – and even got some reps at fullback on Tuesday – but was back on the field Wednesday at his middle linebacker spot. He is participating in his East team's sixth and final practice Friday before Saturday's game.

The week of practice has given him the opportunity of playing against the top talent in the country.

"The best players I went up against were Sam Young and Micah Johnson when he had to play offense and that dude can hit hard," Miller commented.

Scout.com analyst Bob Lichtenfels, who has been on the sidelines for each East team practice this week, said Miller is still showing signs of the injury.

"He's a little bothered by it but he's one of those kids who is trying to hide it so it doesn't affect his reps," Lichtenfels said. "If you've seen him play in high school games, it's clear he's exceptional, but here he's a little tentative and that's since he suffered the injury in the beginning of the week. The linebackers are so good here that you can't afford to sit out and lose repetitions because then the others will get that much more ahead of you."

But even while not at 100 percent, Miller's talents are apparent.

"He's real athletic; they even had him playing some fullback," Lichtenfels said. "He looked good at fullback - you could see his athleticism and speed. As a linebacker, he's a playmaker. He's tough against the run, he blitzes well. He covers in the flats well, jumps those short crossing routes as well as any of the other linebackers here.

"He's a consistent kid – he's consistent all the time. Some kids make big plays here or there, but he's consistent. He's always in the right place, making the right decision and always around the ball."

After a record-setting senior season at Highland Springs (Va.), in which he tallied 99 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, Miller was named a Parade All-American.

He's ranked the No. 9 linebacker in the nation by Scout.com and the No. 4 overall prospect in the state of Virginia.

The Scout.com staff provided the following evaluation of Miller:

"He may have the most upside of any of the linebackers on the East squad. Miller's frame is one that allows him to have excellent closing speed, surprising flexibility and dominating strength. He is considered to be a middle linebacker prospect at the next level, but his speed and versatility will allow him to get a look to play outside backer at the game.

"He's the best in pass coverage of the three middle linebackers in the game and may have the best lateral movement of the bunch as well."

He'll take the field on Saturday to not only show his talents, but he'll also briefly take center stage to announce his college decision on national television.

The five finalists for his college destination are Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida – all of which have hosted Miller on official visits.

Miller admitted there is some pressure to stay close to home.

"I am definitely feeling some heat to stay in-state," Miller said. "[UVa] Coach [Al] Groh said that if I want to do something big, I should do it in-state. Then with the Virginia Tech coaching staff, knowing them so well, I have that pressure."

But sources close to the situation report that North Carolina and Tennessee are the late frontrunners -- with UNC in the lead.

"Tennessee's year doesn't affect them," Miller said. "Everybody has a down year, it just matters how you respond to it, and if I go to Tennessee I can be an impact [player] and go in there and play early."

As for the Tar Heels?

Miller raved about UNC linebacker coach Tommy Thigpen, his primary recruiter who also made the trip to San Antonio this week to show the four-star recruit just how important an addition he'd be to North Carolina's recruiting class.

"I love Coach Thig," Miller said. "He is a great guy, and we talk all the time. He would be a great guy to play for. I've been down to several games this year, and I had a great time."

Miller's former teammate at Highland Springs, current Tar Heel lineman Wyatt Hicks, is trying to sway him as well.

"I've talked to Wyatt a few times, and he's trying to get me to come down there."

All that's left now is to finalize the decision and announce it on national television.

"I am going to decide Friday when my dad and my coach are here," he said.

And he'll announce his decision Saturday during the game broadcast, which begins at 1 p.m. (EST) on NBC.

* Jarrell Miller Video Highlights

* Jarrell Miller Profile

Inside Carolina Top Stories