January 14, 2010

Miller's decision good for A&M on and off the field

Wednesday, Texas A&M junior jack Von Miller, the nation's sack leader in 2009, made his decision on whether or not he will enter the NFL Draft.

That decision will see him suiting up for the Aggies once again a senior in 2010.

Miller's decision to return for his senior season has an obvious impact on the field for the Aggie defense. However, it also has big implications off the field in terms of both perception and recruiting.

Although Miller had been heavily recruited out of DeSoto High School in A&M's recruiting class of 2007, he had not made much of an impact in his first two years as a backup defensive end and linebacker despite playing as a true freshman.

However, his potential could be seen in his ability to come off the ball quickly with a flash of a first step, change direction and use his hands to move offensive linemen out of the way. As a result, the A&M staff basically built their 2009 defense around him, creating a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position for him called the jack.

Even though Miller lined up everywhere, one could typically find him in a two-point stance on the right side as an edge rusher. He had great success in the spring and fall practices, but given the perceived weaknesses with A&M's offensive line it was unknown if he was truly an impact player.

It didn't take long for Miller to dispel those doubts as he recorded three sacks in A&M's opener against New Mexico. His impact carried forward through the rest of the season as well. The Aggies' defense ranked 11th or 12th in virtually all of the major defensive categories in the Big 12, but Miller earned consensus First-Team All-Big 12 by recording 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. That's almost as many sacks as the rest of the A&M defense had by themelves (19 sacks) and 13 more than the runner-up (defensive tackle Eddie Brown).

The tackles for loss alone represented about 25-percent of A&M's total tackles for loss and were more than double those of fellow linebacker Garrick Williams. Almost single-handedly, Miller's play resulted in A&M finishing 17th nationally in sacks and the top half of the country in tackles for loss.

However, you have to look at what A&M has done over the past few years to measure what Miller truly brings to the table.

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