Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment from one of the nation’s best interior linemen when Buford, Georgia, four-star center Harry Miller pledged his services to the Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon, despite a planned announcement for next month during his annual mission trip to Nicaragua.
Let's take a closer look at what Miller – the No. 36 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 – brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Miller is everything you want in a center.
He has the perfect blend of size and strength, with the ability to bench press 375 pounds and power clean 345 pounds. He also has a powerful punch that sends defenders backward, especially when he moves into the second level.
Though he can certainly improve his pad level and pursuit angle at times, Miller bends well and keeps a good anchor. He has no trouble keeping defenders at bay in pass protection and can generate movement at the point of attack while run blocking.
Miller, who shows off his versatility by playing all five positions along the line at the high school level, was named first-team all-state after leading the Wolves to the state semifinals last season. He was also named the most valuable offensive lineman at The Opening Atlanta Regional last month and was invited to The Opening Finals as a result. He'll join five-star wide receiver commit Garrett Wilson and four-star offensive tackle pledge Doug Nester in Dallas later this month.
Miller also plans to play in the Under Armour All-America Game next winter.
IN THE CLASS
Miller becomes the 10th member of Ohio State’s Dynasty ‘19 recruiting class, joining Mentor four-star Ryan Jacoby and the aforementioned Nester along the offensive line.
In years past, need forced the Buckeyes to slide all-American guards Pat Elflein and Billy Price over to center. It turned out well, as both proceeded to win the Rimington Award as the nation’s best player at that position, but that won’t be needed moving forward.
With Miller in the fold and four-star freshman Matthew Jones already on campus and gaining reps this spring, Ohio State could very well add a few more trophies to the collection in the near future.
The Buckeyes are expected to take as many as six offensive linemen this cycle, but Miller will be the only center. Most of the staff’s focus is on the outside, where they hope to address a lack of depth that remains even after they signed five-star Nicholas Petit-Frere and four-star Max Wray last cycle.
Miller, who holds a 4.0 grade point average and earned a composite score of 34 on the ACT, is on track to be the valedictorian of his graduating class of more than 325 students. But it’s not what he does in the classroom that helps him stand apart from his peers.
The 17-year-old spends one week each summer on a mission trip in Nicaragua through a partnership with the Open Hearts Children’s Ministry. The Christian outreach program operates a school near the country’s capital city of Managua; distributes food to families in the area living well below the poverty line; and helps repair the infrastructure of a crumbling region where people live in tin huts, children sleep on the hard ground and there’s no warm water or plumbing in the places that do actually have bathrooms.
“It’s humbling for anyone to go down and see that,” Hillary Snook — co-operator of the non-profit, non-denominational Mission for Nicaragua team — told Eleven Warriors. “Every time he’s there, Harry is very much a servant. Sometimes with ministry and mission work, you have the mindset that, “We’re Americans and we’re here to save the day.’ Harry does not have that mentality. He very much has a servant heart and he’s very humble. He tries to just play and have relationship with the kids and love on the people and pray with them. Harry’s choice to return and return and return shows that it’s not just a check in the box. He has a heart for that.”
It’s clear there’s a bigger purpose for Miller, who hopes to use his football career as a platform or tool to raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate living in those kinds of conditions.
“What’s very exciting about football is that it provides such a great platform,” Miller told Eleven Warriors. “From doing interviews like this to even at the next level, to play in front of however many people, it’s a great platform to share what I’m doing and get others involved. It’s very exciting.”
To which Snook added, “Harry has learned humility, gratitude and to not take anything for granted. I think he feels like he’s doing what God called him to do. There’s no fringe benefits — in fact, it costs him money. He doesn’t care if anybody knows that he does this. Harry does what Harry thinks is right, and he believes he was called to do this. He’s in Nicaragua to stay.”
When Miller is no longer a minor, he’ll have a place on the mission’s board of directors.
“One of the things that attracts him to Urban Meyer is his faith,” Snook said, noting how they watched the head coach allowed former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to be open with his own faith.
That said, you may recall how Athletes in Action — an on-campus ministry that “helps sports-minded people think and live biblically at the intersection of sport and Christianity” — and the opportunities it provides for student-athletes played a rather significant role in running back Master Teague III’s commitment last summer. It struck a chord with Miller, as well, since he hopes to bring his teammates on mission trips with him in the future.
“I think the biggest thing is just to serve the people down there and build the relationship with them,” Miller said, “but it’s also — for me — great to come back and share testimony to better connect with people. The most important thing is to spread it and get other people involved and interested in even doing their own mission work.”
Miller was expected to announce his college decision during this year’s trip to Nicaragua, but safety concerns will unfortunately prevent him from attending in July.