SPRING VALLEY FOOTBALL

Accolades again follow Vikings linebacker, Christian Miller

Vikings linebacker among Butkus Award nominees

ainelson@thestate.comNovember 5, 2013 

Lower Richland's Heath Gilmore, 3, rolls out to pass against Spring Valley's Christian Miller,7, in the first quarter of play at Spring Valley High School Friday night.

VAN HOPE — jdevlin@thestate.com

To the list of his senior year accolades, Spring Valley linebacker Christian Miller can add being selected as a national Butkus Award semifinalist.

Miller, who has been selected to the South Carolina Shrine Bowl and Under Armour All-American games, and is a candidate for South Carolina’s Mr. Football Award, is one of 12 semifinalists from across the nation being considered for the award.

“It means a lot. It’s a reward for everything I’ve been working for. I feel like I still have a long way to go, but it feels nice to have the recognition,” Miller said.

“It’s a big honor, but honestly, I’m more excited to be able to represent my school, my community and my parents” he said.

The award is named for Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus and given by the Butkus Foundation, which also has awards of the same name for college and professional linebackers.

Intended to recognize athletic achievement and community service, the Butkus Award also raises awareness about the Foundation’s “I Play Clean” initiative, which encourages teen athletes to eat well, train hard, play smart and eschew performance-enhancing drugs.

The 51-member selection committee will name finalists on Nov. 26, and winners will be announced on Dec. 10.

In July, Miller announced his commitment to Alabama.

In September, he received his jersey for the Under Armour All-American game, to be played Jan. 2, 2014 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Then, in October, Miller was announced as a Shrine Bowl selection and a candidate for Mr. Football, the only defensive player among the five prospective winners.

“He’s a team leader and just a special guy for us,” Vikings linebackers coach Mike Harrell said. “We kind of figured that he would be considered for Shrine Bowl and some of the all-star games. But the other accolades, you hope he would be recognized for all that he’s done, but you just don’t know. He certainly deserves all the attention he’s gotten.”

Miller and the 10-0 Vikings play their final regular-season game at Harry Parone Stadium on Friday against Richland Northeast.

“It’s a really big honor, but I’m more focused on my team right now. We’re having a great year. I’m proud of my whole team, and it’s just really great to be a part of that,” Miller said.

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