Spring Valley coach Miles Aldridge looks at junior linebacker Christian Miller and thinks back to his career as a college football recruiter two decades ago.
Over the summer, Miller, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defensive leader for the Vikings, picked up a scholarship offer from Clemson. Long ago, Aldridge was trying to recruit another Miller — Christian’s father and former NFL standout Corey Miller — to Clemson.
The 16-year-old, who first joined a peewee football team before he was old enough to hit the field, enjoys knowing that his coach has that kind of history.
“It means that my coach is experienced, and he has a lot of knowledge about working with talented athletes,” Miller said.
“It means I’m old,” Aldridge joked.
All kidding aside, Aldridge said his expectations of Miller are not based on his father’s accomplishments.
“When Corey was 17, he was already a man, but Christian is still growing,” Aldridge said. “He’s a guy that, it’s a redshirt year, and maybe another year after that before he’ll really blossom.”
Aldridge does not make many comparisons between the two Millers.
“The most important thing with Christian is not who his father is, it’s his attitude. He has a great attitude that is going to help him along,” Aldridge said.
The coach said Miller began his high school career inconspicuously. He was a skinny kid with speed and some natural talent. He was not flashy and he was not boastful.
“Certainly, when you decide to play football, you live in the shadow of your father’s accomplishments a little bit, but I don’t think that Christian came out with anything to prove,” Aldridge said.
Miller said his playing days began at four-years-old, or maybe even younger, as he took an interest after watching his father and older brother play.
As he reached middle school and junior varsity, Miller decided football was more than a shared interest.
“As I got older, I started to get more serious and more committed,” he said.
He worked hard this summer to get faster and stronger — Aldridge said Miller could eventually develop into a lean 230-pounder — and aimed to see his name at the top of the stats sheets.
And he has done well at that. Miller has recorded 41 tackles and six sacks this season, helping the Vikings to a 5-0 start.
Miller is hoping the wins keep rolling in, and more scholarship offers, as well. USC recently offered Miller a scholarship.
And he is aiming to distinguish himself, to gain recognition not for his pedigree but for his ability.
“I don’t want people to think I get attention just because of my dad,” he said.
“People have told me if I go where my dad went (South Carolina), then there are always going to be connections and expectations,” Miller said. “But I’m not going to make my decision based on where my dad went, and even my dad said that is not what I should worry about.”
The man who almost got Corey Miller in a Clemson uniform had a little advice for him.
“I told Corey he can’t be a radio announcer, he can’t be a South Carolina alumni through this process. He’s got to be Christian’s father,” Aldridge said.
And whatever he accomplishes and wherever he goes, Christian Miller knows, he is Corey Miller’s son.