It’s been more than a decade since USC had a commitment from a skill position rated lower than a three-star.
That designation tends to be reserved for long snappers and punters, but Powered Springs (Ga.) defensive back C.J. Miller has flown under the radar as a two-start recruit all year long.
However, against one of the best teams in Georgia this season, Miller showed that he is indeed underrated.
“I’m finally getting to start, so I already knew I was going to ball out this year,” said Miller. “I was able to show my skills on JV and some on varsity, but now that I’m starting so it’s easy for me to make more plays with my boys on defense.
“Against Grayson, I had 11 tackles — eight assists and a pick six. Since then, teams aren’t really trying to throw my way.”
McEachern lost to No. 8 nationally ranked Grayson 16-13, but Miller’s performance was highlight worthy.
This season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back has been playing safety for McEachern. However, against Grayson and Westlake High School, he did play in man coverage against the likes of Jamyest Williams and DeAngelo Gibbs.
“Hitting the gym, getting team workouts in and then doing filed work with my trainer has paid off,” said Miller. “It’s a continuous thing — I’ve been doing it since I was 5-years-old.
“But now I’ve been working on specific things, like my hips and running that shuttle. I have that fast shuttle time now because I’ve been working on it. I can’t even really describe it as working though because I just love to ball.”
While McEachern has had a good start to their season, USC has not. With boosters, fans and former players critical of the program, Miller remains focused on what USC can do to improve.
“It’s been a rough start, for sure,” said Miller. “It’s a bonding thing though.
“They have to use this time to get a little better on offense and defense. I feel like, by the time I get there to add on to what they have, we’re going to be trying to bring to old SC back. I really believe we can do that.
“I see a lot of spots on defense where I could come in and contribute. The coaches think I can play corner, one of the safety spots and then even that rover, nickel spot like Su’a Cravens. Wherever they need me, so it doesn’t matter to me.”
As of now, no college program is a real threat to steal Miller away from USC. However, with scholarship offers from South Carolina and Auburn, a good senior season could make Miller a top target in the SEC region before signing day.
“I talk to Auburn now and again, but I think a lot of schools see me as a solid commit to USC,” said Miller. “We still have games left, so I’ll see if different schools start coming in.
“I might be up there for an Auburn game pretty soon just for an unofficial. I was trying to set something up with LSU too, but that’s obviously changed. I do know with USC that I’ll take my official visit in January. I don’t see anything else going right now.”
Although the Trojans has had a bad start to the season, Miller emphasizes that his decision to commit to USC was not solely bad on football.
“You can’t beat the combo of education and sports at USC,” said Miller. “I love California and I fell in love with it.
“But with football, I feel like I can make an impact on the team. I see they need help and the opportunity is there. You need opportunities to be successful.”