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July 1, 2003COLQUITT, Ga. - Sometimes when you're the big fish in a small pond, it's easy to get a big head. But don't expect that to happen when Miller County five-star defensive end Brandon Miller hits the big time.
Miller, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound do-it-all prospect, is one of the most soft-spoken and humble players that you'll ever meet.
And rest assured, Miller will hit it big time, and when he does he'll still be the same unassuming kid who dominates on the field in this tiny southwest Georgia county that boasts a population of around 5,000 people.
He's just as real as the red clay of Georgia.
"He's like two different people on and off the field," Miller County assistant coach Jason Houston.
"On the field, he's this athletic and intense guy that just goes around and makes a ton of plays. But off the field, he's just a good kid. He's the type that you would want to date your daughter. He works so hard and does everything the right way in everything that he does in life.
"I guess the best way to put it is that he's amazing."
Miller said the main reason that he's amazing is because of his mother, Merle Miller. She has worked hard at the American Fabrics plant over the years and did an amazing job of raising him.
"She's mom and dad," Miller said with a proud smile.
"She basically raised me all by herself. She doesn't sugar coat anything for me, too. If you do something wrong, she's going to make sure and tell me how to do it right and then make sure that I do it right. I lean on her for everything. I love her with all my heart and she's the No. 1 reason why I have turned out this way.
"I'm here today because of her."
Here is ranked as the nation's No. 8 football prospect by Rivals.com and the top overall player in the state of Georgia.
As a junior, Miller recorded 98 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three interceptions, returned three punts for scores and had three fumble recoveries, including one that he returned 96 yards for a touchdown.
Miller already has scholarship offers from many of the nation's top programs, including Florida State, Georgia, Auburn, Duke, Georgia Tech and LSU. According to one SEC recruiting coordinator, Miller would have more than 60 scholarship offers if he didn't live so close to the middle of nowhere.
Even the high school coaches in the state of Georgia recognize that Miller's talent is amazing.
"Miller is the best player I've ever seen," Crisp County coach Clay Hill said.
"That kid can play anywhere on the field, I swear I have seen him play it all. He could be the best player in the country in three or four different positions. I don't doubt for one minute he's the eighth best player in the country. If you told me he was ranked No. 1, I wouldn't argue with you one bit. That kid is unbelievable."
Miller, who can be seen lining up at four or five positions (linebacker, defensive end, receiver and running back) during a game, but is likely to project as a pass-rusher deluxe in college, said that it's his hustle, brains and determination that make him stand out above the crowd.
"I have to be smarter than the other guys out there on the field," he said. "I use that first and then I just hustle harder and work harder than anybody else on that field. I'm just dedicated to what I'm doing."
It also doesn't hurt that Miller has been blessed with body of a Greek God. He's a legitimate 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds and has biceps that'd make Arnold Schwarzenegger blush.
"I realized when I was in the 10th grade that I was better than the other guys out there, but I really haven't put much thought into it," he said.
"I just go out there and play for myself, my team and the people in this town. And the way it's going now, I know that it's great, but I don't pay much attention to where I'm ranked or how good everybody says that I am.
"I'm just worried about what goes on that field."
There's another example of Miller's modesty. To tell you the truth, Miller probably doesn't realize how good he is and those are the major reasons why he's going to stay grounded and come out of this recruiting process and life ahead of the others around him.
"He's not fake," said Glenda Bailey, the local beat writer for the Miller County Liberal and Miller's biggest fan in Colquitt.
"His mother did a great job of raising him, and he's a 100 percent class act. He's every mother's dream of a perfect son. He's just blessed as an all-around athlete and person. He's a great football, basketball, baseball and track athlete. He does not know how good he is because he's such a simple and honest young man."
And that's why recruiting is such a non-factor in his life at this point. Sure, Miller knows that he's going to have to eventually make his life-changing decision and pick where he wants to go to school, but at this point he's not going to let the hype and attention get to him.
"It's crazy sometimes," Miller said. "But I'm just not worried about it because I'm going to go where I feel comfortable. I get people in town telling me I should go here or I should go there. I don't even listen to them. They're really big Georgia fans and a lot of people are going to assume that I'm going to follow in Charles Grant's footsteps."
Grant, who was ranked as as a franchise player by the National Recruiting Advisor in 1998, was drafted in the first round in 2002 by the New Orleans Saints and was the best thing to come out of Colquitt until Miller came along.
"I remember watching him play football when I was growing up and in junior high," he said.
"Sure, I've talked to him about how to handle the pressure and what advice he could give me. He asked me about what schools I'm thinking about and I tell him that I'm looking at teams like Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida State and a bunch of others. I've been to Georgia Tech's camp and I like it up there how they taught me about the fundamentals. I'm going to UGA, Auburn and Florida State, too.
"He did tell me that I'm going to have to put in the hard work to get where I want to get."
And that hard work and getting to where he wants to be 10 years from now brings us back to his family and especially his mother, who's been his rock, his crutch to lean on and most importantly his best friend.
"I don't know where I'm going to be for sure in 10 years," he said. "I'm assuming it's going to be something in football or associated with football. I'm going to make sure my momma is living comfortably. That's a goal, not a dream. I want to take care of her. I want to get her anything she wants - a house, a car, anything. I'm going to try hard and turn it into a reality."
And like his mother taught him
"I'm going to do it the right way," he said.