Christian Miller is a menacing defender with a versatile skill set. The 6'4", 220-pound prospect is a 4-star recruit, listed as the nation's second-best senior outside linebacker prospect and South Carolina's No. 1 overall player in 247Sports' composite rankings.
He stars at Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.) High School, where he has wreaked havoc on opposing offenses throughout his career. Miller made 121 tackles and 21 tackles for loss and compiled 14 sacks as a junior, according to AL.com.
Now a senior, he has racked up more than 60 tackles through five games. He has seven sacks over the season-opening span, typically lining up along the edge of the defensive line.
After considering several scholarship offers, Miller committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide in July. He held other offers from Florida, Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State and UCLA.
Miller fits in nicely with Nick Saban's defensive scheme, providing the four-time national champion with another dangerous playmaker in the linebacker corps. He views himself as perfect piece in Alabama's approach, which he explained to AL.com reporter Matt Scalici.
Their defensive scheme is a perfect fit for me. I'm an outside linebacker that can rush the passer and play in coverage. Alabama typically has to find guys who play defensive end in high school and covert them to that outside linebacker position but that's my natural position so both Coach Saban and I felt I was a perfect fit for what they need at that spot.
Let's take a look at what sets this fearsome defensive stalwart apart from the pack.
There are plenty of elements that make Miller such an intriguing prospect for Alabama. You have to start with his pass-rushing abilities, which create extreme confusion for quarterbacks.
Miller typically lines up off the offensive tackle's outside shoulder at the high school level, but he'll likely start most plays from a stand-up position in the second level with Alabama. His ideal role is an edge-rusher and run-stuffer off the outside edge in a four-linebacker scheme.
With 20 sacks since the start of his junior season, it's easy to read the stats and understand that this young man is a ferocious disrupter of the passing pocket. But it's how he reaches the quarterback that really stands out.
Miller is extremely quick off the snap, displaying active hands and a long reach. He doesn't stutter-step en route to the quarterback, instead dipping and weaving without any considerable deceleration.
His approach to the offensive backfield is just as impressive against a rushing attack. He takes proper angles and maintains controlled pad level, particularly at the line of scrimmage.
When it comes time to wrap up, Miller is a sure tackler. He delivers blows with a low center of gravity, bursting through the ball-carrier's midsection.
His long wingspan enables him to cut off creases in the rushing game. Elite athleticism puts Miller in position to smoothly maneuver laterally along the line of scrimmage, closing up gaps.
Miller's pass-coverage skills could perhaps be better categorized as an unknown commodity rather than a weakness. He's spent so much time anchored to the line of scrimmage at the high school level and is rarely charged with the task of providing dropback coverage at the second and third level.
His superior pursuit provides an inclination that Miller may be a menace while patrolling the flat. There's no reason to think he won't hold his own against a back on a flare route.
Miller's size and athleticism set him up well in matchups against standard tight end targets. He won't sacrifice position or be bullied.
However, when it comes to shiftier tight ends and wide receivers, there's plenty of room for doubt. His lack of coverage experience will come into play as he fights to get onto the field for Alabama, and he must quickly work through those growing pains.
He also occasionally gets caught peeking in the offensive backfield on plays that are already past the line of scrimmage. That can't happen at linebacker, although it's less likely to occur considering his new vantage point on defense.
Miller is tailor-made for this Crimson Tide defensive attack. He is bound to encounter serious competition in an effort to lock down playing time in Saban's scheme, but his skill set and track record suggest we'll see him in the rotation at some point during the 2015 season.
His freshman year will be a learning experience, on the practice field and in film study sessions. The Alabama staff is intent on transforming him from a raw, athletic prospect into a polished linebacker who understands the system and how his play-by-play assignments fit.
A special teams role on kick coverage is probably his ceiling in 2014. If he doesn't earn early playing time during his first training camp in Tuscaloosa, expect the coaching staff to consider applying a redshirt.
Miller is aggressive, physical and a top-tier blitzing 'backer. It may take some time, but he's among those next in line to develop into star performers for future Crimson Tide teams.