rundown of Michigan's riser
2010 Recruiting: Ricardo Miller
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB
Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, WR Jerald Robinson, WR DJ Williamson, and WR Jeremy Jackson.
|Ann Arbor, MI - 6'3" 215|
|Scout||4*, #27 WR, #167 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #66 WR, #12 MI|
|ESPN||4*, 80, #27 WR|
|Others||#89 to Sporting News|
|Other Suitors||Tennessee, Florida|
|YMRMFSPA||Braylon Edwards/Jason Avant platypus|
|Previously On MGoBlog||A nearly two-year-old commitment post. Friday Night Lights took in Miller's games against Inkster, Saginaw, and Chelsea, and Tom talked to him after the WMU game.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Good friend of 2011 RB Demetrius Hart.|
There's also sophomore film.
It's not quite right to say Ricardo Miller had the biggest disconnect between early hype and late rankings in the Rivals era of recruiting, but that's only because fellow Floridian and mega-offer-toting sophomore Marvin Robinson experienced a decline from probable five star to "you'll take a low four and like it." But it's not far off either.
A couple years ago I was answering some questions after my now-annual trip to New York to tell the local alumni club wildly incorrect things about Michigan's upcoming football season (bowl predictions the last two years: Alamo and Insight) and someone was concerned about Michigan's future wide receiver recruiting in the spread 'n' shred, and I described Ricardo Miller as a "lock" and a high school version of Terrell Owens, except nice. The first bit was accurate—Miller's commitment post above is almost two years old, as he dropped 18 months before Signing Day. The jury is very much out on the second.
It's worth noting the early hype was not limited to Michigan circles that could be prone to overrating a guy presumed to be a lock. He was ranked the #11 player in Florida($) by Scout at one point…
11. Ricardo Miller, WR, 6-2, 200, Orlando (Dr. Phillips)
The Skinny: Physical specimen who is still a little raw. Has great speed at his size and projects to be a #1 WR type who is a go to guy. Has size to make tough catches over the middle. Has great hands, needs to work on his concentration. Very good blocker. Can get down the field and be a deep threat. Played at Dr. Phillips in Orlando as a junior. A player who has the tools to play on Sunday.
…and that wasn't even his high water mark. Florida Football Magazine had him #2 in the state:
Big, strong, and fast, Miller could be playing for a major college right now but he's only a junior. He was the star of many off-season 7-on-7 tournaments.
Top two in the state of Florida should come with some impressive offers and it seemingly did, with Florida and Tennessee cited by multiple sources at the time of his commitment. One article specifically mentioned the magic word "written." In contrast to the skepticism about Jeremy Jackson laundry list of mega-offers, given the surrounding hype I tend to believe that Florida and Tennessee would have happily accepted a commit from Miller. Later claims at Alabama, Notre Dame, and LSU offers are a bit more suspect.
There are no rankings out on either Scout or Rivals for the 2010 class yet, but the buzz about Miller is substantial. Most have him pegged for the Darryl Stonum type range on Rivals, a high 4-star guy hovering around the top 50 overall.
Naturally, OUTRAGE resulted when Miller debuted at 139, which the math inclined will note is outside the Rivals 100. Speculation centered on how long it would take Rivals to fire the waste of space who made that decision and correct the grievous error. Rivals, naturally, dropped him to a meh three star in their next revamp and finished the year by declaring Miller the #66 wide receiver in the country, a couple spots behind Northwestern commit Rashad Lawrence. Lawrence claims other BCS offers from Duke, Stanford, and Purdue. Vanderbilt stands aloof on his schools list, present but decidedly sans the check mark representing an offer. Miller's fall was precipitous.
What was this based on? The only scouting content($) I can find in Miller's profile:
PERFORMANCE: Led Pioneer in a six-team scrimmage, recording a leaping touchdown grab and a couple of other catches in traffic.
STRENGTHS: Big, strong kid, especially in the lower body. His frame forces one to wonder if he will outgrow receiver spot and play another position, like outside linebacker or strong safety. Great attitude and very intelligent. WEAKNESSES: Struggles getting in and out of breaks. Does not move as well as other top-rated receivers. Had a lapse of concentration by dropping a touchdown pass late in the scrimmage. - G.L.
Just a few months earlier he was second team All Army Combine, but that somewhat lackluster performance in a scrimmage was apparently enough to turn Miller from a four star guy with "huge upside" into just another generic three star. The natural tendency is to scoff.
Evaluations from ESPN and Scout aid in this task. ESPN has him one of the highest ranked players in the class($) and just outside their top 150:
…essentially a wide receiver with H-back size and toughness. He could easily develop into a 225-pound hybrid player with a ton of versatility. … His willingness and ability to come up with big plays over the middle of the field is one of his most impressive traits. What he might lack in great speed, he makes up for in overall talent. He possesses big, reliable, soft hands with very few body catches. Most of his receptions come with great hand positioning and concentration. … He makes great adjustments to the ball, while it's in the air -- especially on over-the-shoulder grabs. What really stands out is his ability to make plays on the jump ball, balls thrown in traffic and adjustments to poorly-thrown balls. Comes off the ball quickly and reaches top speed rapidly for a player of his size.
Concerns are the usual for wide receivers in this class over six foot: raw speed. "Lumbering" makes a repeat appearance, though in Miller case he just does it "a bit."
That evaluation might be a bit generous about the hands, however. Scout's take lists "hands and concentration" as his negative and mentions it in the brief scouting report on his profile:
Is a big bodied, physical wide receiver with good speed for a kid with his size. He can take short passes, break tackles and get into the open field. He has big, strong hands and can snatch passes out of the air, but needs to work on his consistency with catching the ball and will sometimes let passes get into his body. Is a good blocker and a tough, hard working kid.
In addition, Miller's performance at the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp drew some criticism($) in the same area:
Two things were obvious… he could get deep or go up over anyone in attendance. He was too strong for most DBs he faced, and the speed he possesses at his size made it unfair at times. Hicks was the only DB that experienced his fair share of success in one-on-ones. Miller’s biggest enemy on the day was the dropsies. The short to intermediate passes…i.e. those with some steam on them… weren’t always handled cleanly.
And a little more form Allen Trieu:
According to Scout.com, Miller is a four-star wide receiver who possesses an unbelievable physical package for a high school athlete.
“He has great size and has worked hard in the weight room. He is stronger and physically ahead of where a high school senior entering college should be. For someone with his size, he has good straight line speed and shows the ability to snatch the ball out of the air.”
“He is a great kid who will be a good ambassador for a program and an excellent recruiting host,” Trieu said of Miller.
Despite the somewhat backhanded compliments for his speed (always "for a guy his size") and occasional issues with dropped balls, Scout places him exactly where ESPN does, the #27 WR nationally. That's considerably higher potential than Rivals (OUTRAGE!) suggests.
Whatever Miller's potential is, he seems highly likely to reach it. Take whatever star-crossed Michigan talent who suffered from a poor home environment and seem to waste his God-given gifts you like and imagine the exact opposite of that. That's Ricardo Miller:
“He’s always in overdrive, always giving 110 percent,” Reagor-Miller said. “I’ve never had to make him do things because he takes the initiative to do it himself. Hard work and commitment pays off, and now he’s learning that.”
Apparently, Miller has an affinity for sit-ups. His mother said they can’t watch a television program together without him throwing himself to the floor during every commercial break from some crunches. Coach Salapa also recalled Miller’s many impromptu sit-up sessions before, during and after practices.
“Sometimes, we have to keep him from working too hard,” Salapa said. “He does everything to the max.”
Ron English will be pleased to know that Miller's parents are still together, and as a bonus are both ex-military. An EMU scholarship offer is in the mail!
Part of Miller's decline can probably be explained by his move from Florida to Michigan. After he committed he knew he'd be enrolling early and decided he'd start the Michigan bit of his life even earlier than that:
"It's basically the fact that it was closer to my school and my mom wanted to move up during this time to be closer to her dad," Miller told SN Today. "It will be a lot easier to have access to Michigan and to help recruit in Michigan. And now all my family will be close by and be able to see me play. That was another big part of it."
Recruiting sites are gaga about Florida and might have looked at whatever scrimmage Miller was at in a more positive light if it was taking place down there. Also, Pioneer's quarterback was not a guy who's going to play in college. Tim after one of Miller's games:
This was the first time I'd seen Miller look truly dominant against high school competition, though he's looked semi-dominant before, he just never gets the damn ball. His quarterback doesn't have the confidence in his own arm to hit Miller on the always-wide-open deep posts (or deep crosses - look how open he is nearly every time he runs a route, but the QB is too scared to throw it), otherwise Miller would have finished with 200+ receiving yards in every single game of his I've attended.
His final numbers were indicative of that: just 31 catches but at almost 20 yards each and ten touchdowns amongst them. In the game against Inkster I saw the Pioneer QB preferred the diminutive outside receivers (Pioneer used Miller as a tight end much of the time) to chancing a safety picking him off. This was actually a slight decrease from his junior numbers 34 catches and 615 yards), but if we've learned anything through this five-receiver recruiting profile journey it's that high school quarterbacking makes receiver stats almost useless for projection.
Why a Braylon Edwards/Jason Avant platypus? Braylon was not a big time guy as a recruit, so this is just a comparison based on playing styles. Miller's a big strapping guy who can go up and get jump balls but might have some hands issues. Michigan's listing him at either 6'2", 208 (upon his commitment), or 6'4", 215 (now). Splitting the difference there yields 6'3" and around 210; Braylon is 6'3" and around 215.
Miller doesn't seem to have the same deep speed Braylon does, nor does he seem likely to be a guy who is "not on the same page" as the coach. He is an extreme character guy and program ambassador who should be able to crush guys on slants, make catches with guys on his hip, and generally be a guy who uses muscle and positioning to get open instead of raw speed. This is all Jason Avant.
Now, can you combine those assets of Avant and Edwards and get a great player?
Guru Reliability: Low. Major spread in the numbers, wide receiver with ugly quarterback situation, transfer, early commit, disagreement on a key attribute (hands), uncertainty as to what his best position is.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Seems to have a cap on his upside since he's already so physically developed—also potentially a reason his stock fell as others improved and he leveled off—but still a guy who seems like he'll have above-average physicality even as a collegian. Slightly worried that a possession receiver with eh hands or a long bomb guy with eh speed makes the guy a WR tweener, but it seems like if there's any way he can improve either he'll work on it until it's better.
Projection: Will probably play this year as Michigan tries to get some outside WR depth; could redshirt if Stokes shows well and Robinson plain beats him out but it will probably be close enough that he gets some time. Not likely to see much in the way of passes while he's in. A Lloyd Carr Memorial Redshirt-Burning WR Blocking Seminar beckons.