An Ahmu clone? Cougs offer LA-area d-lineman

THEY PLAY DIFFERENT positions on the d-line and their recruiting classes are one year apart. But the stories are strikingly similar. A dominating southern Californian with a prep coach fielding inquiries from a legion of majors. In the 2005 recruiting class, so went the tale of Fevaea'i Ahmu, incoming WSU freshman from San Diego. In 2006, the description fits Westlake Village's Jeff Miller (6-6, 250). WSU has offered and Mike Walker, the d-line coach who recruited Ahmu -- also is wooing Miller.

Like Ahmu, Miller is a dominating defender with a motor that never stops. The wrecking ball is being recruited by just about everyone who is anyone according to Westlake High coach Jim Benkert and at a number of positions -- defensive end, defensive tackle and tight end.

While he could develop into a lethal offensive force, his future may lie on the defensive side of things. This guy loves to hit.

"He's a national recruit who can probably go wherever he wants," said Benkert. "He plays with reckless abandon, has a great first step and a great nose for the football. And he finishes."

Also like Ahmu, who signed with Washington State this past February, Miller has a dedication to the game and a strong work ethic.

"He lives in the weight room -- he wants to be a football player," said Benkert of Miller. "He understands what it takes to become a big time football player. He's dedicated to do what he needs to in order to be a big-time guy."

MILLER HOLDS OFFERS from Washington State, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Colorado and Boston College. Additional scholarship offers are likely imminent -- some of the schools in close contact are USC, UW, UCLA, Arizona State, LSU, Notre Dame, Utah, Michigan and Nebraska. Oregon State, Wyoming and others have all been by Westlake recently. And Miller's brother, Jimmy, is a backup tight end for USC.

Miller doesn't have a top five nor any frontrunners at this point. "I'm totally open to any college right now," he said. Westlake's players routinely forego the summer camps/combines circuit but for a player like Miller, additional exposure isn't all that necessary. Distance will not be a factor in his decision, but the prospects of earning early turns will be a consideration.

"Playing time, early playing time hopefully, and then a good team chemistry," said Miller. "And just a good family atmosphere -- just someplace where I'd feel comfortable."

WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey

WHILE CONTACT INITIATED from a school is limited at this time of the year, WSU d-line coach Mike Walker, a former Cougar star who went on to a stellar career in the CFL as a defensive lineman, has already made an impression on the steakeater.

"I liked him," said Miller. "I was able to talk to him (for a little while) and I liked him a lot."

Miller said he's looking for college coaching that is intense and gets "you all fired up". Someone who always gets the best out of you -- I like those kinds of coaches."

The combination of Walker and high flying WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey, who both coach the defensive line for the Cougs, would appear right up that alley.

LAST SEASON as a junior, Miller racked up 60 tackles -- 14 of those went for sacks. He had 5 batted down passes, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries. Current strength numbers include a bench of 305-pounds and a squat of 475-pounds. At tight end last season, he hauled in 16 catches for 183 yards and 1 TD.

Jeff Miller profile

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