Pahokee, Fla.--Janoris Jenkins, a bluechip defensive back prospect for Pahokee High School, says the heart of his unbeaten team’s defense is linebacker Jatavious Miller.
Pahokee star receiver Martavious Odoms has the same opinion of Miller, a 6-0, 203-pound senior linebacker who has made 107 tackles this season for the 11-0 Blue Devils.
Miller, Odoms and Jenkins are all scheduled to take official recruiting visits to check out the Auburn Tigers this weekend, but before they do that they have some business to take care of back home in south Florida--serious business.
“We have a big game coming up against The King’s Academy,” says Miller, whose team opened the playoffs last week with a 62-0 victory over University School last week.
“We played King’s Academy early this year and won, but they have a good team,” says Miller, whose junior year team finished as state champions with a 14-0 record. Pahokee, which is ranked seventh nationally by USA Today, won the first matchup 39-17 in game two back in September.
The Blue Devils have been tough to score on this year. They have four shutouts and only three of 11 opponents have managed to score in double digits this year vs. a team ranked No. 1 in its classification.
“We have a football team that plays with a lot of energy,” says Miller, a three-year starter for the powerhouse program. “Football is important to us. We don’t like to see teams scoring points against our defense.”
Miller says his favorite game this season involved one with more scoring by the opponent than he would like, but the 34-24 victory over archrival Glades Central in the annual “Muck Bowl” was special because of the caliber of competition.
Both teams had 9-0 records coming into the contest. “Our schools are only 10 miles a part so it is a big game for us,” he says.
NFL Films was there to film the game for a segment on Greatest High School Rivalries matching the defending state champions because both schools have a history of sending players into the collegiate and pro ranks. The victory for Pahokee was the first time the Blue Devils had won at Glades Central in two decades in a series that has been dominated by the home team.
A three-year starter who is handling the starting assignment at middle linebacker, when Miller makes the move to college it won’t be surprising to see him move to weakside linebacker to take advantage of his ability to tackle in open space and as a pass defender.
“I am athletic and can play all of the linebacker spots,” says Miller, who notes he bench presses 305 pounds and has eight quarterback sacks this year. “I can cover slot receivers as well as tight ends.”
His teammates note that Miller is a physical linebacker with a nose for the football. “He makes it very hard for other teams to run the football against us,” Odoms says.
Jenkins notes, “He is a good player. He is a playmaker and he is a key to our defense. He is good. He knows the scheme. He isn’t all that fast, but he can tackle very well. He has got a good work ethic and is dedicated to football.”
Auburn was the first college to offer Miller a scholarship after he caught the eyes of Auburn’s coaches at a summer camp earlier this year. Miller says he is also being recruited by Tennessee and Ole Miss from the SEC as well as Boston College from the ACC and South Florida from the Big East, but so far those schools haven’t offered a scholarship yet.
“Eddie Gran is recruiting me for Auburn,” says Miller, who notes that the Tigers are his favorite. “I really liked Auburn when I went there for a football camp last summer,” he notes. “The coaching staff is great and I think their linebacker coach, Coach (James) Willis, really liked what he saw from me. Whenever he wanted me to do something in the camp, I showed them I knew what I was doing and made the adjustment right away and made the play.
“I like the family atmosphere at Auburn,” he adds. “The players and the coaches get along very well and that is important to me.”
Miller says he is a B+ student in high school who athletically concentrates on football. “I may go out for the track team this year, but football is my main sport,” he notes.
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