Next up in our offseason recruiting series is Derrick Miller, a 5’11 cornerback out of St. Louis. Miller is the first cornerback that I’ve covered in this series and the second player in the secondary so far, next to Isheem Young.
Miller is joining a unit that lost its two best players from a year ago in Brian Peavy and De’Andre Payne. Because of that, he will have the opportunity to make an impact as a freshman. Anthony Johnson and Datrone Young will more than likely be the starters to open up the season, as both players got plenty of playing time last year, but weren’t starters.
Miller has moved on campus with all of the other incoming freshman and will start practice within the coming weeks.
Derrick Miller is another defensive back that moves very well. He relies on speed and quickness to stay with faster receivers while using good position and strength to outman bigger receivers. He’s an athletic defender, but he won’t blow anyone out of the water with it. Instead, he will play smart football with high-level instincts and footwork.
It mentions in the film that this is a game-sealing interception. Miller does a really good job of anticipating where this throw was going. Using this, he stayed with his man and got under the throw, which allowed him to high point the ball before the receiver could catch it. It also helps that the quarterback under threw the ball slightly, but it still took a pretty good play to intercept it.
On this play, Miller is matched up against a slightly bigger receiver who tries to run a wheel route to the bottom pylon. Miller does a really good job of getting in front of him and preventing him getting to the ball. Miller knew where this throw was going the second this play was snapped, and was able to put himself in position to stop the touchdown.
This is another play where Miller is playing man-to-man coverage, but this time he’s tasked with covering a tight end. The receiver runs a simple crossing route that results in Miller having to burst through to make a play. This route needed an explosive play from the corner to be a defensive success, and that’s exactly what Miller did. He did a great job of getting an arm around the tight end while jumping to prevent a first down reception.
One of the most important aspects of a defensive back’s game is open-field tackling. There will always be plays that break loose into the secondary and that means the team needs players who can stop those plays. Derrick Miller has a lot of good open-f ield tackles throughout his tape, but I chose what I thought was his most impressive.
On this play, Miller isn’t the last line of defense— instead he’s the defender that was intentionally left unblocked. Before the ball carrier even has the chance to bounce it outside of the defense, his ankles are caught by Miller, who then brings him down. This probably wasn’t a touchdown-saving tackle because the defense behind Miller was still in pretty good position to bring him down, but he certainly saved his team from surrendering a big gain.
With Iowa State’s three man front, the defense relies on a lot of zone coverage through the middle of the field and man-to-man along the sidelines. This plays right into Derrick Miller’s strengths. He will be able to thrive against receivers that are similar in size and speed thanks to his above-average footwork and instincts.
With the loss of Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne, Jon Heacock will need some help in the secondary. If Derrick Miller could step up as a freshman, that would be huge. It’s entirely possible that he gets playing time as a freshman thanks to his IQ and intangibles.
In terms of freshmen, Miller is relatively polished, so his development will be more in the realms of play recognition and strength, given that his technique is already good. Miller is a lot more ready to see the field than most freshman would be.
Miller probably will never be a guy who leads the league in interceptions or tackles, but he will be the type of player that can be relied upon while flying under the radar. I’m very excited to see Derrick Miller make an impact on the defense in the coming years as a Cyclone.