Jack Miller is tough to get a read on for many reasons. One: googling "Jack Miller" turns up allsortsoffolk even when you include stuff like "football" or "St John's," his high school. Two: the recruiting sites mostly rank him as a defensive end but Michigan plans to play him at center.
Maybe someday, they'll be able to catch the real deal - the gym's inspiration - an actual rat named Stuart, after Stuart Little.
"Kind of like Rocky catching the chickens," said Jack Miller as he laughed. "Maybe we'll try to catch Stuart one day.
"I think when we leave, he gets out here on the turf and does a few agility drills and what not. He watches us. He learns."
That segment's title: "Welcome to the Rat's Nest!!!" Words. There are none.
There's much more. I feel like I know Howard Chen like my own surprisingly old, surprisingly Asian sportscaster son now. KAPOW (commitment). WHAM (lack of decommitment after Rodriguez firing). POW:
In order of preference: Harbaugh, Hoke, Other, Howard Chen, Miles. ZEERP (I am out of Batman whap noises):
"There's a whole new energy and a whole new vibe with Michigan right now," he said. "The program's re-invigorated, I think. Coach Hoke's doing a great job putting a new face to the program and everybody's loving it."
Unfortunately, the dogged efforts of Mr. Chen to publicize Jack Miller's ability have not been replicated elsewhere.ESPN's useless evaluation evaluates him exclusively as a defensive tackle after dismissing OT, his high school position, as an option. Here is the useful bit:
He already is a fairly big kid and displays the frame to pack on more good size and will likely grow into a fulltime interior player sooner then later. … Offense is an option. He is a physical run blocker who gets hands on, but needs to watch his pad level.
There you go. Watch your pad level, kid. Like every other high schooler in the universe.
That evaluation is it as far as scouting reports from major sites go. Scout and Rivals don't really have anything, and Rivals persisted in ranking him as a defensive end anyway.
We do have a couple of local evals. Sometimes dour co-blogger Tim had a "Mikey Likes It" moment or two with Miller:
Offensively, he had pancake blocks on nearly every running play. I was more impressed with him on that side of the ball.
On offense, he's a vicious blocker who never seems satisfied unless his man is pancaked. His quickness in pass-blocking isn't the greatest, but Ross didn't have anyone who could make him pay for that (and he won't have to deal with it as much playing on the interior of the line in college). He could have an impact on either side of the ball in college, but he looks like a future David Molk(!), nasty streak and all.
He's clearly an aggressive player, both on offense and defense. He likes to hit people hard. And when he does, he doesn't celebrate. To me, that means he's used to it. It's not an exciting novelty for him to punish somebody. It's just his job.
However, one criticism that I have of Miller is that he plays high. This is a problem both on offense and defense, and that concerns me, especially as an interior lineman prospect. Especially if he's going to play center, leverage is of utmost importance. And in my opinion, playing low is something that's very difficult to change. It's something that comes naturally or it doesn't. That's the difference between elite players and so-so players.
And his own evaluation praises his ability to snap the ball—something Michigan fans have learned not to take for granted of late:
“I think I am best suited in the long run for offensive line,” Miller said. “My body type and how I move, I think, is more suited for offensive line.” …
“I can snap the ball and shotgun snap real well, so (the coaching staff) really likes that,” Miller said.
So he can snap and is mean, and comes by this meanness naturally, and does not notice it. He's also got the frame to become a large, drive blocking sort and a pad level problem that might make that difficult. Pass protection is not an asset but he should be able to get by on the interior. In a hypothetical world where the recruiting services other than Scout bothered to project him to his college position it sounds like they'd all be okay three-star ratings anyway.
Miller should be an asset off the field. He's got excellent academics—Northwestern and Boston College were his leaders until Michigan hopped in:
Northwestern will be difficult to leapfrog. The offer he desperately covets is the Michigan Wolverine piece of paper.
"It is historically such a great program," said Miller. "It is not very far from home. It is not Toledo. It is definitely one of those programs. If they were to offer me I would have to take some steps back. It is probably the only program I that would do that for me."
And he's had to grow up quickly. Unfortunately, his dad died of lymphoma two years ago:
Jack is the most mature high school kid that I have ever seen,” Pearson said. “I guess that's because he's had to be. But the other thing is because he wants to be.”
That Miller has become such a presence wherever he goes can be largely attributed to his father — an energetic, engaging personality himself — a guy who made sure to pack maximum effort into his relationship with Jack and younger children Matt and Molly, especially in his final eight years while he was battling his disease.
Barring injury, Miller will be around for five years. Barring something unexpected with the lineup he'll start for three of those years, and he'll probably be at least okay unless the pad level issue is chronic.
Etc.: District lineman of the year, FWIW. Has a younger brother Matt in the class of 2013 who's already got a Toledo offer—may be a guy to keep an eye on. Summer training:
The results are clear: In two years, Jack Miller's gained about 50 pounds of muscle. His brother Matt's gained about 70, still has two years left in high school, and already has a scholarship offer from Toledo.
"You hate it a little bit right now," Jack said. "You're thinking, 'God, I'd rather be laying on the couch or in the pool' or something like that, but for the big picture, when it comes Saturdays at the Big House, that's what it's all about."
Prep … attended St. Johns Jesuit High School (2011) coached by Doug Pearson … played defensive end and offensive tackle … ran 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds … bench pressed 315 pounds and squatted 475 pounds … had a 30-inch vertical jump …
Why Generic Non-Molk C? There are two phases in my understanding of center play: David Molk and vast ignorance. I don't think Miller is going to end up playing much like Molk, who's about six-foot and lightning quick for a guy pushing 300 pounds. Molk is a blunt talker but his mean streak is a bit limited because he often expresses it by balletically sealing a defensive tackle out of hole instead of clubbing a guy to the ground.
Miller, by contrast, pushes the upper bounds of how tall you want a center to be at 6'4" and could top out significantly over 300 pounds. It sounds like his strengths will be punishing people unless he gets too high and gets punished himself. This means he's not Molk, and honestly I could tell you bupkis about specific traits of previous Michigan centers.
Guru Reliability: Garbage save Scout as they don't even bother to rate him at his best college or high school position. Also centers are the most-ignored offensive linemen.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Developmental center project who seems to have the attitude and size to make it. Technique will come, or it won't.
Projection: With Molk and Rocko Khoury in front of him Miller is a lock to redshirt even given the depleted state of the offensive line. He's not likely to beat out Khoury as a redshirt freshman, but he will have the job almost by default in 2013. Michigan's collecting OL rapidly in the 2012 class but none are center types; anyone competing with Miller will be switching positions or a true freshman.
Would like to see some video on him against the likes of Kenny Hayes(OSU) and Chris Wormely(UM) in the Toled Whitmer game. Maybe we could gauge a little better of how good he really is. He didn't play too many top notch teams.
Jack is one of the hardest working and SMARTEST football players I've seen in a long while. Even just how he carries himself and how he speaks.
IMO we have a guy that will start after Khoury is gone. He'll never be an NFL world-beater, maybe even never a 1st team All-Conference player. But I see him like a Mark Huyge. Start as a RS Junior and RS Senior...we'll have a hot-shot highly rated underclassmen that tries to beat him out, but sees only limited time backing up the ol' vet.
“True loyalty is that quality of service that grows under adversity and expands in defeat. Any street urchin can shout applause in victory, but it takes character to stand fast in defeat. One is noise — the other, loyalty.”
His preparations: "It's been a little different. Michigan, they give you a training regiment, [sic] which I've been following. I've been training with a personal trainer. I've used a few connections I have with the NFL to get my hands on some film of centers in the NFL I've been watching."
Switching positions: "I played left tackle and defensive end. The plan was to play offensive line at Michigan. Some schools recruited me to play D-line. Michigan recruited me to play offensive line, but I'm only 6-3/6-4, so I'm not big enough to play tackle in college. ... So I've been projected to play center since I committed."
Current players you've connected with: "The visits I've taken up there, I got to know Taylor Lewan and Patrick Omameh pretty well. I know Jake Ryan pretty well because I'm from Cleveland and he's a Cleveland guy. There's been a few guys I've gotten to know. And Kevin Koger being a Toledo guy. I've used the fact that I'm only an hour away to build relationships."
Advice from uncle Jim Leyland: "I've talked to him a few times, and it's just to enjoy it. People who are that high in the sports world like my uncle and family friends we have here, they've been through it and are saying the same thing. It's a lot of work but it's fun as hell. Enjoy the ride. He's happy for me, I know, and it's unique having him be such a big name up there and me going to be a Michigan football player."
Biggest worry: "I'm a busy guy now, but it's going to be another whole level, how to manage that and manage academically, athletically and being able to fit in socially, enjoy myself and my college experience."
LSA '89 - MBB Natl Champions, Big 10/Rose Bowl Champions | @MGoShoe