After a defensively dominant performance for the undefeated Jackson State Tigers against Campbell, Aubrey Miller Jr. has been named the East-West Shrine Bowl HBCU Defensive Player of the Week.
The latest in a string of honors for the former four-star recruit, Miller is one of several players from the ascending HBCU powerhouse who could hear their name called in the 2023 NFL Draft, with five Tigers on the initial Shrine Bowl 1000 Watchlist.
Week 8 HBCU Defensive Player of the Week
As Jackson State cruised to their seventh consecutive victory, Miller was named the Shrine Bowl HBCU Defensive Player of the Week following the most impressive performance of what is turning into a defensively dominant season. The Tigers have held every single opponent under 250 yards this year so far, and their outstanding linebacker has been an integral part of that success.
The senior prospect set double-digit tackle numbers for the first time this season, tallying 13 tackles against the Camels as Jackson State emerged with a 22-14 victory. Flying all over the field as an enforcer in multiple phases of defense, Miller registered two tackles for loss and one sack for six yards.
In addition to holding Campbell to just 14 points, Miller’s efforts helped keep the Camels’ offense to just 247 yards. Meanwhile, the ferocious Jackson State defense allowed just 126 yards after the first quarter.
While the Tigers’ offense receives national attention with the performances of Shedeur Sanders, the defense is proving to be one of the best in the nation and helping Jackson State emerge as the dominant HBCU force.
Miller has been the leading force of that defensive unit. His contributions in the win over Campbell that earned him Shrine Bowl HBCU Defensive Player of the Week honors add to a statistically successful season so far for the senior 2023 NFL Draft prospect.
The double-digit tackle game was the sixth of his career and the ascending linebacker prospect now leads the Tigers with 42 total tackles.
Additionally, he’s contributed four and a half tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, and three pass breakups. The Jackson State outside linebacker also has a fumble recovery touchdown on his résumé this season.
His productive campaign is a continuation of a standout FCS career that started in the spring of 2021 and includes being named first-team SWAC last fall after tallying a conference-high 109 tackles with 11.5 tackles for loss.
An impressive statistical résumé doesn’t necessarily make a potential NFL Draft prospect. As Draft HBCU scout and defensive line coach Gerald Huggins Jr. explains to Pro Football Network, however, there’s more to Miller than just a box score bursting with numbers.
“Miller has the size, speed, strength, and instincts to be a solid inside linebacker on the pro level. At 6’2″, 225 pounds, he can also play the Will and Sam in a 4-3 or be the Mike in a 3-4 scheme.
A ferocious run stopper and hard hitter, Miller is a sideline-to-sideline LB with a nose for the football. He has the strength and quickness to avoid, destroy, and shed blocks by offensive linemen.”
While Miller Jr. has the physical tools to earn attention next April, there’s more to the Jackson State linebacker than just see ball, get ball, leave an opponent in a crumpled heap on the floor.
“He has also shown the instinct to see plays before they even develop,” Huggins continues in his assessment of the Shrine Bowl HBCU Defensive Player of the Week. As part of their recently announced partnership with the longest-running college football all-star game, Draft HBCU is helping the Shrine Bowl to identify and elevate HBCU talent for the 2023 NFL Draft and beyond.
“It’s also infrequent that you’ll see him miss any tackles. Hitting hard is beautiful, but being a sure tackler is even better. His coverage skills have progressed since stepping foot in Jackson, and the continual growth in that area will only continue to raise his stock.”
Miller arrived in Jackson State in the spring of 2021 after spending three years at Missouri. He saw action in 21 games across defense and special teams before transferring between Tigers. Many FCS prospects flew under the radar as high school prospects, earning national attention only late in their football journey. Miller is not your usual FCS prospect.
The Jackson State linebacker was a four-star recruit in the 2017 recruiting class after an extremely successful high school career. The impactful linebacker helped guide Whitehaven High School to a Class 6A state championship and was named Tennessee Titan Mr. Football Class 6A Lineman after tallying 147 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four interceptions (two returned for TDs), and five forced fumbles as a senior.
While it might have taken him a while to live up to that potential at the college level, Miller is playing the best football of his career at the right time, with the eyes of NFL evaluators on him ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
According to Huggins Jr., “Miller is one of the top FCS prospects in this year’s class” having been the “centerpiece for a defense that has been one of the best units in college football.”
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