Darrell Miller of perennial powerhouse Cedar Hill (Texas) High School pledged to the Vols on Saturday during “Orange Carpet Weekend” on the UT campus.
When asked what separates Miller from most high school defensive backs, Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire answered: “Two things: He has great speed and he’s very physical. We never did this, but we always felt like if we had to have a guy play safety and corner he could do both because he’s such a physical kid.”
Miller packs 180 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame and clocks 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash. His man coverage is reportedly outstanding.
“That’s what he does best,” McGuire said. “If you give him a choice, that’s what he wants to do. We run a lot of stuff in the secondary, so he’s got to play zone and man. Given a choice, though, he’d rather play man.”
Although Miller has the agility to be a lock-down corner, he also has the toughness and tenacity of a safety.
“He’s physical enough to play safety,” McGuire said. “He’s a very physical kid.”
The coach said Miller reminds him of two previous Cedar Hill High standouts.
“We had a kid in ’06 when we won our first state championship that went on to play for Nebraska – Anthony Blue,” McGuire said. “And we’ve got kid who is playing for the Carolina Panthers, Josh Thomas. Darrell reminds me of them because they’re all fast and they will hit you in the mouth.”
Miller gets to hone his coverage skills every day in practice by going against Texas A&M commitment DeMarkus Lodge, a Scout five-star rated the No. 3 receiver in the Class of 2015. Even giving away four inches of height and 20 pounds of heft to the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lodge, Miller wins his share of the battles when the two go one-on-one in practice.
“It’s usually a war but he holds his own,” McGuire said. “They’re both really physical. You could say the same things about DeMarkus that you say about Darrell – very tough and very physical.”
Like most high schoolers, Miller needs to keep improving in some key areas.
“He needs to continue to get playing experience and maturity on the field,” McGuire said. “But all corners – all players, for that matter – have to keep getting better at what they do.”
Miller picked the Big Orange over offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Utah, Kansas State, Iowa State, Wake Forest, Boise State, Indiana and Purdue, among others. He recently trimmed his list to four – Tennessee, Ohio State, Boise and Purdue – before settling on the Vols.
Miller is Tennessee’s 21st commitment for the Class of 2015 and the first cornerback. As a junior last fall he recorded 39 tackles, 5 pass breakups, a hurry and a fumble forced.
Rated a three-star recruit by Scout, Miller is listed as the No. 68 corner in America and the No. 92 prospect in talent-rich Texas.