LINCOLN — The Huskers’ search for more pass rushers led them to the high school of maybe the program’s best quarterback-tormentor in recent seasons.
And Collin Miller didn’t waste much time in deciding to follow in the footsteps of former NU defensive end Randy Gregory, whose 17½ sacks in two seasons rank ninth on Nebraska’s career charts.
Miller tweeted Jan. 14 that the Huskers offered him a scholarship. Less than two weeks later, he was on NU’s campus for an official visit. And Sunday, Miller announced that he’d made a nonbinding pledge to Nebraska, becoming the 18th known member of the 2016 Husker class.
Miller may not have Gregory’s explosiveness, said Scott May, the Hamilton Southeastern (Indiana) coach. May thought the long-and-lean Gregory had one of the quickest first steps he’d seen.
Miller’s pursuit is still lethal, though. May said 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has a relentless attitude, and he’s regularly able to blend speed and physicality to take control of the action up front.
“Very explosive,” May said of Miller. “He moves well. We did a lot of stunting, a lot of moving around — and he was really good off the ball.”
Miller, who played outside linebacker as a junior, spent last season working on as a weakside defensive end in Hamilton Southeastern’s 3-4 system, May said. Miller recorded 11 sacks and 25 tackles for loss as a senior, according to the Indianapolis Star. He was an Associated Press all-state honoree.
More teams began expressing interest in Miller soon after his season ended.
He’d previously been committed to Purdue, but decided to open his recruitment in November. He visited Indiana a month later. Arizona State extended a scholarship offer in January. NU did the same a few days later — at that point, likely labeling Miller as a high-priority target.
Coach Mike Riley said in October that the Husker roster was “five or six” pass-rushers short. He indicated NU would browse the junior college market, as well as hunt for talented high schoolers.
But before Miller’s commitment Sunday, the only 2016 pledges projected to play at the line of scrimmage for Nebraska’s defense were Quayshon Alexander (Wayne, New Jersey) and Ben Stille (Ashland-Greenwood).
The Huskers still have nine days to add to their class, though. Signing day is Feb. 3.
NU hosted six recruits, including Miller, the past weekend. Pernell Jefferson, a linebacker from New Orleans, also was on campus. He announced his oral commitment to Nebraska a day before Miller.
College coaches have until Saturday to make off-campus contact with recruits. Riley and linebackers coach Trent Bray were headed to Colorado on Sunday night. The Husker staff is expected to host another handful of prospects in Lincoln this coming weekend.
Miller was originally set to arrive Friday with the final group, but he moved up his trip to Lincoln.
He was also considering South Florida, Duke and Indiana, his coach said. May said Miller recently informed Syracuse that he’d dropped it from his list.
And after this weekend, Nebraska proved to be Miller’s choice. Just like Gregory, who spent two seasons at Arizona Western before coming to Lincoln.
“Nebraska’s part of the Big Ten, and (its coaches) know that in Indianapolis, you’re going to find good football players,” May said. “(Miller) had great interest. It’s been a process for him.”
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