Up Close: Jarrell Miller, Part I

HIGHLAND SPRINGS, Va. – Jarrell Miller knows what he wants and has learned how to go out and get it. The North Carolina 2006 four-star commitment has found sanctuary in football in order to overcome overwhelming adversity and avoid common inner-city pitfalls.

The Highland Springs (Va.) and Army All-American Bowl athlete is a leader on all sides of the ball and a role model of success against all odds for his classmates.

With a Division I scholarship offer and a dream to play linebacker in the NFL, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Miller, already has the physical makeup of a collegian. He may have finally found his way out of a past that wasn't always so uplifting.

"I grew up in the ghetto," Miller said.

Of limited means financially, but abundant with love for their five children, John Henry and Sabrina Miller had to move their family frequently in between Georgia and Virginia to help make ends meet. Jarrell is the middle child with each an older and younger brother and sister.

"Back and forth, back and forth; it was kind of hard for me to keep friends," Miller said.

It was also difficult for him to make friends. Self-described as the "fattest kid in the neighborhood," Miller many times found himself on the short end of ridicule and physical abuse.

"I had a rough time growing up," Miller said. "Kids in the neighborhood always wanted to fight me because I was easy to beat up. Thankfully my brother would stand up for me."

And then there was the danger of falling in with the wrong crowd. Miller said his limited acceptance socially while growing up made it difficult for him to get out much as a teenager.

"So I got into football," Miller said.

And as he began to develop his body and gain confidence in his ability, Miller looked less and less like a poor little kid growing up in a desperate situation, and more like a man ready and able to transform his future life through football.

However, Miller continues to make sacrifices. Due to personnel needs, he played fullback as a sophomore, was moved to offensive line for his junior season and then played linebacker and center as a senior. At the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio earlier this month, he was the only player to play on both sides of the ball – and, in addition, he was a special teams' contributor.

"Whatever my team needs me to do, I am willing to do," Miller said. "I always pick my team before myself. It taught me discipline and how not to be selfish and be a team player."

In light of his versatility and adaptability, Miller has honed in on the middle linebacker position, which is the position he says the UNC coaches plan to use him.

"Jarrell's got a great presence right in the middle of the defense," Highland Springs defensive coordinator Jason Meade said. "He anchors it down. He knows what everybody is supposed to be doing and where everybody is supposed to be set up. He makes the show run out there. There is a lot of confidence when you signal into Jarrell, he tells the other players and they go out and get it done.

"He plays with a lot of enthusiasm and emotion, and that is what we need. That passion is what made him who he is."

Stay tuned for Part II coming tomorrow…

Jarrell Miller Profile

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