NCF On The Trail: Christian Miller

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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at which programs compiled the nation's best overall position classes in 2014. For the full top position classes series, click here.

Quarterbacks: Florida
The Florida Gators had a major need at quarterback in the Class of 2014, and Will Muschamp and staff more than filled it, signing two of the nation’s top signal-callers. Third-ranked dual-threat prospect Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) is already on campus and preparing for spring practice, while No. 7 dual-threat prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a huge signing-day flip from Florida State. Both prospects are great athletes who are accustomed to operating up-tempo offenses. This should also help newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who will install a similar scheme in Gainesville.


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Top position classes: LB 

February, 17, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.

The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Recruiting hits and misses: SEC West

February, 6, 2014
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Now that the fax machines are quiet, the 2014 signing classes have been announced and before we start looking ahead to 2015, let's take a moment to examine how each of the SEC schools did in filling immediate needs via recruiting.

We're checking out what all 14 teams did to fill holes, and we're looking at which holes still remain. We'll start with the SEC West (click here for the SEC East):

ALABAMA

Needs filled: It was obvious Alabama needed help at cornerback, and the Crimson Tide went out and got two of the best in the country in five-star prospects Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. Pass rushers were also a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and four-star outside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Christian Miller key pickups. Cameron Robinson, yet another five-star prospect, could end up starting at left tackle next season on the offensive line.

Holes remaining: The Crimson Tide could have used another marquee receiver and lost out on No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre to LSU. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri both heading early to the NFL, the Tide also might have come up short at safety.

ARKANSAS

Needs filled: The Hogs’ passing game was in need of a jump-start, and getting an ESPN 300 player out of Miami the caliber of JoJo Robinson adds another playmaker to the equation. Arkansas’ offensive line class is equally impressive with four-star prospects Brian Wallace and Frank Ragnow and three-star prospect Jovan Pruitt joining Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper from last year’s class.

Holes remaining: The highest-ranked player in the Hogs’ class was defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado, Ark., which was big considering they need help everywhere on defense. But they missed out on a pair of highly ranked defensive ends in Solomon Thomas and Demetrius Jackson.

AUBURN

Needs filled: Gus Malzahn called ESPN 300 prospect Tre' Williams the key to the class, and he should provide an immediate boost at linebacker. With Chris Davis departing, the Tigers also needed to replenish at cornerback, which is where four-star prospects Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts come in. Both were ranked in the top 10 nationally at their position. With Greg Robinson leaving early for the NFL draft, it was good to add muscle on the offensive line with ESPN 300 prospect Braden Smith, who could play guard or tackle.

Holes remaining: The sting of losing Evans, who’s from Auburn, to Alabama could be felt for a while. He's the kind of explosive athlete who would fit on any defense, and the Tigers need more of those guys, particularly at linebacker.

LSU

Needs filled: The loss of running back Jeremy Hill early to the NFL draft was lessened by landing Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in this class. It only got better for the Tigers’ offense on signing day when the country’s No. 1 receiver, Dupre, said he would play his college football on the Bayou. Safety was a real sore spot on defense last season, so getting ESPN 300 prospect Jamal Adams was a major pickup. Adams is rated by ESPN RecruitingNation as the No. 2 safety in the 2014 class.

Holes remaining: Robinson would have been a nice centerpiece on that LSU offensive line, but Alabama came into West Monroe, La., and swiped the five-star prospect. The Tigers also lost five-star athlete Speedy Noil of New Orleans to Texas A&M.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Needs filled: Junior college signee Jocquell Johnson is already on campus and will battle for a starting job next season on an offensive line that’s losing two starters, including All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson. The Bulldogs also added a pair of playmakers at receiver in ESPN 300 prospects Jamoral Graham and Jesse Jackson. Flipping 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive lineman Cory Thomas from Tennessee on signing day added some more punch to an already deep and talented defensive line in Starkville.

Holes remaining: More secondary help would have been nice, which is why losing cornerback Tee Shepard to Ole Miss on signing day was a downer. A couple of the offensive linemen the Bulldogs wanted, Jordan Sims and Sean Rawlings, also opted for Ole Miss.

OLE MISS

Needs filled: The Rebels wanted to continue to stockpile talent on the offensive line after reeling in Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson a year ago and did that with four-star prospects Rod Taylor, Tyler Putman and Sims. Upgrading the defense was also a priority, which is why beating Alabama for ESPN 300 safety C.J. Hampton was so important along with getting ESPN 300 defensive end Garrald McDowell out of Louisiana. Flipping junior college cornerback Shepard from Mississippi State was a nice signing day coup.

Holes remaining: You can never have enough defensive linemen in the SEC, so losing defensive tackle Michael Sawyers to Tennessee was a blow. The same goes for ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux, who stuck with his commitment and signed with LSU.

TEXAS A&M

Needs filled: With Johnny Manziel taking his show to the NFL, Texas A&M has to find a quarterback. Early enrollee Kyle Allen is an ESPN 300 prospect and ranked as the No. 1 pocket passer in this class. Noil, another early enrollee, should help fill a void with big-play receiver Mike Evans headed to the NFL, and the Aggies also loaded up on offensive linemen, including a pair of junior college signees. Any help on defense was a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Myles Garrett one of the keys to the class.

Holes remaining: The Aggies are still thin at safety after swinging and missing on several of their top targets in this class, including Adams, Steven Parker II and Mattrell McGraw. They also had ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner committed but lost him to Boise State when Marcel Yates took the defensive coordinator job there.

Biggest flips: SEC 

February, 3, 2014
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As expected, with the plethora of commitments followed by decommitments and second and third verbal pledges, it's no surprise that the hotly contested Southeast and SEC feature a number of impactful flips in 2014.


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With signing day quickly approaching, there are several storylines developing throughout the SEC. Here’s a closer look at five things to watch for on national signing day:


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 20, 2014
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The dead period is over, and this was the first of three official visit weekends remaining before national signing day on Feb. 5. Several top prospects visited SEC schools, there were some commits, and there will be a few announcements this week. Here’s a closer look at the latest recruiting news from around the SEC:

Biggest commits: Georgia is already feeling the effects of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt on the recruiting trail. The Bulldogs were able to land two ESPN Junior 300 commitments, Rico McGraw (Nashville, Tenn./The Ensworth School) and Terry Godwin (Hogansville, Ga./Callaway), over the weekend.


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Updated ESPN 300: Pac-12 analysis 

January, 14, 2014
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There were a several shifts for Pac-12 commits and targets in the newly updated ESPN 300. While it's difficult to make big jumps for players toward the top of the list, Oregon, UCLA and USC target John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) made a considerable move up 14 spots to No. 24 overall, while Arizona State and Stanford target Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) slid up seven spots and into the top 40 at No. 39 overall. But there were several others with Pac-12 ties who saw their stock rise even more:

[+] EnlargeViane Talamaivao and Austin Maloata
Blair Angulo/ESPNUSC offensive guard commit Viane Talamaivao (right) has moved up nine spots in the updated ESPN 300.
TE Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure): The USC verbal commitment moved up 37 places and now sits at No. 89 overall. He is now the No. 1 player at his position. The Trojans will need to hold off a late push from UCLA, which was his other finalist, but coach Steve Sarkisian's history with the tight end position as well as the fact that USC lost tight end Xavier Grimble to the NFL draft should allow the Trojans to keep hold of Dixon's commitment.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: With the first edition of this year’s BCS rankings released Sunday, we take a look at how the top five teams in are faring on the college football recruiting trail.


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UA Game jersey tour: Christian Miller

September, 25, 2013
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Senior outside linebacker Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley High) was presented his honorary game jersey during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game on Sept. 19.

Miller, an Alabama commitment, is the No. 61-ranked prospect overall, and the No. 1 outside linebacker in the class. He committed to Alabama over Florida. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech among others.

"I decided to accept it because I've always watched this game every year," Miller said. "When I was younger I watched everybody play in it, and it was an honor to get invited to it ... something I couldn't really pass up. It was kind of a dream. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I couldn't turn it down, so i had to do it."

Spring Valley head coach Miles Aldridge cites Miller's hard work and versatility as being big in his ascending to the No. 1 ranked outside linebacker in the 2014 class.

"It's a tribute to his hard work, his passion and development in the game of football and he deserves every bit of it," Aldridge said. "What stands out about him [Miller] is he's an excellent pass rusher. He has the ability to rush the passer and drop in coverage, which makes him kind of a true outside linebacker in college and what people are looking for. His height and range, and those qualities make him a special player in that respect."

For Miller, the opportunity to play against the best of the best in full pads has his excitement level up a few notches.

"The main thing I'm really looking forward to is playing against all the top guys with actual pads on. With full pads on with the guys, instead of being at a camp where it's non-contact. It's definitely exciting to know I'm going to actually play a game with these guys ... give me a look at all the top talent I'm going to be playing with in college.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When ESPN 300 linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) put out his top five last month, Alabama was nowhere to be found. That could change after a visit to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday.


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ESPN 300: July 30 update

July, 30, 2013
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Tom Luginbill breaks down the significant movers in the ESPN 300 rankings, including a new player in the top three, players who made massive jumps further down in the rankings and new positional No. 1s at wide receiver and outside linebacker.
One of the nation's finest linebacker prospects, Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley), committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday. Read below to see how our scouts believes he'll perform in Tuscaloosa, Ala.:

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For the past two weeks, ESPN 300 linebacker Christian Miller (Spring Valley, S.C./Spring Valley) has refuted reports that he was close to making a decision between Alabama and Georgia. On Thursday, the former Florida commitment proved those rumors were true, announcing his pledge to the Crimson Tide.

“It was for a number of reasons,” Miller said. “They have a lot to offer. Defensively, I fit in perfect with their scheme and how they’re going to use me. Their player development, particularly if you look at linebackers, they’re well known for that.

“They have great tradition. They have an excellent program for former players and for their current players. They don’t just focus on things on the field. They also focus on things off the field as well. You get a great education. You get a great football experience. You also get to grow and learn as a man. They prepare you for the real world out there.”

The No. 76 prospect in the country, Miller originally committed to Florida in February before opening his recruitment back up in May. Alabama and Georgia immediately jumped into the mix, and the 6-foot-4, 212-pound outside linebacker -- who had 121 tackles, 14 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles as a junior -- took visits to both schools in June and July.

It was thought that perhaps the Bulldogs had taken the lead after his time in Athens for Dawg Night, but Miller took one last visit to Tuscaloosa last week, and today he committed to the back-to-back national champions. This time he’s sure of his decision, he said.

“I wanted to go ahead and get it out the way before my season starts,” Miller said. “I kind of had it in mind that that’s where I really wanted to go, but I wanted to be sure because this is my last commitment. I’m going to be 100 percent committed this time.

Miller said he’s done taking visits to other schools, but he does have plans to visit UA in the fall, specifically for the LSU game.

The Tide and the Bulldogs are not done in their search for pass-rushers, either. Alabama and Georgia also are battling it out for five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), although he lists Florida as his lead at the moment. Georgia leads for ESPN 300 defensive end Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee County) and ESPN 300 linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn). Alabama has also been after five-star defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).

With the addition of Miller, Alabama now has 10 commitments from ESPN 300 prospects in the 2014 class, a class that already was ranked No. 4 in the RecruitingNation class rankings.

TideNation's Greg Ostendorf contributed to this report.

Summer recruit wrap: Florida 

July, 23, 2013
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GatorNation looks at five themes of Florida's 2014 recruiting class to date:

Friday Night Lights will be loaded


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Summer Recruit Wrap: Georgia 

July, 23, 2013
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With the camp season over and the fall season rapidly approaching, DawgNation takes a look back at the biggest recruiting news of the summer.

[+] EnlargeSony Michel
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comClass of 2014 RB Sony Michel is one of the many big names in Georgia's class.
1. Summer has been very, very good to Georgia
Heading into June, Georgia had five commitments, after going without one in May. Some analysts had pegged the Bulldogs as being off to a slow start for 2014, but with a class of 33 in 2013, Georgia has had to be very selective with this class. Even with a decommitment last week, the Bulldogs have added 12 commitments in June and July, headlined by the additions of five-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) and ESPN 300 athlete Malkom Parrish (Quitman, Ga./Brooks County). As August approaches, Georgia can realistically pick and choose to fill its remaining spots.


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