Linebacker Aubrey Miller Jr Has Been Dominant | NFL DRAFT '23
Updated: Jan 13
By Adam Aniba
This year's draft class features some top notch playmaking linebackers, but Jackson State University linebacker Aubrey Miller Jr might be one of the most intriguing.
Miller Jr boasts SEC experience, playing three seasons at Missouri before transferring to JSU for the '21 spring season. Under the tutelage of HC and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, Miller Jr had a productive two seasons with a breakout year in '22.
"Aubrey is one of the guys that we hang our hats on in the middle of the defense," Sanders said in a SWAC coaches' call. "Making calls, getting to the ball, flying around and really setting the tone and tempo, not just on game day, but in practice as well. ... He goes about his job really professional and hard. He's going out there doing what we think he should be doing."
Aubrey Miller Jr
6'2" 220 lbs | LB | JSU
Proj 4th-5th Rd
Career MIZZ (22 Games)- 7 Total TAK (5 solo)
Career JSU '21-'22 (25 Games)- 215 TAK (112 solo), 22.5 TFL, 8.5 SACKS, 5 FF, 2 FR & 9 PD
'22 Stats (12 Games)- 106 TAK (59 solo), 11 TFL, 2 SACKS, 4 QBH, 4 FF, 2 FR & 6 PD
Miller Jr attended Whitehaven High School in Tennessee, where he was awarded the the highly coveted Titan Mr. Football Award. He guided his team to the Class 6A Championship with a 15-0 record during his senior year in '16. He was also named to the All-Region 6A Team, the All Tennessee Team and a list of other accolades after recording; 147 total tackles, 21.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, 4 interceptions (two returned for TDs) and five forced fumbles.
The Whitehaven OLB was the #13 outside linebacker prospect in the nation and a Three-Star recruit per ESPN and Rivals. Miller Jr received offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Iowa State, Memphis, Middle Tennessee and Toledo among others, but ultimately chose to play for Mizzou and was ranked as their #3 recruit.
Although the Tigers linebacker played in 21 games from '17-'19, the majority of his snaps came on special teams and made the honor roll during his time at Mizzou. Miller Jr. suffered a knee injury in the '19 season opener vs Wyoming, which kept him out for the rest of the season.
After playing for three different linebacking coaches in three seasons and seeing his head coach fired, he decided to enter the transfer portal. Per an interview with The Athletic, the linebacker discussed what led up to his decision to leave Mizzou.
"That’s the guy who runs the organization. That’s the guy who gets on you, and when he left, I just felt lost at first. I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been through an experience like that, especially as I was going up on the depth chart and getting ready to play".
Transfering to Jackson State University would end up being a career changing decision for MIller Jr. As previously mentioned, Sanders saw promise with the linebacker and gave him an opportunity to have extended snaps on defense. In fact, DC Dennis Thurman who arrived to JSU at the same time as Miller Jr, often tasked the OLB with lining up the defensive and making pre-snap adjustments.
In '22 Miller Jr would have his breakout season, which led to him being awarded the 2022 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year award after registering 98 tackles (53 solo) with 1 sack, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 quarterback hits, 5 pass breakups, and 1 touchdown this past season on the way to an undefeated 11-0 season.
Miller Jr. recorded 9 tackles in the '22 season opener vs Florida A&M, in addition to returning a fumble 19 yards for a TD. The linebacker recorded 8 tackles seven times this season, in addition to recording 10+ tackles in four games (tied a career high vs Texas Southern with 19 tack).
Attacks the ball as a physical tone setter
Quicker than fast and explodes of the snap
A sideline to sideline linebacker with a nonstop motor
High football IQ
A field general who can be tasked with lining up his teammates pre-snap
Unofficial forty time won't open eyes (4.96 seconds)
Limited in pass coverage
Undersized for a pass rushing OLB
Tends to be a bit upright in his stance and needs work on some basic fundamentals
Limited production and contribution while at Missouri
In his final two seasons, Miller Jr. registered 215 total tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, nine defended passes and five forced fumbles.
Although some teams might not have a role for a an OLB, with less than desirable timed speed, the tenacity and intelligence he brings to the table are undeniable.
The Senior Bowl will be his first opportunity to separate from the pack with a potential invite to the NFL Combine also ahead.
The JSU linebacker projects as a developmental WLB with a ton of upside and should immediately contribute on special teams.
*Games Watched- 9/4 vs FL A&M, 9/17 Grambling St., 10/8 vs ALA St., 10/15 vs Bethune-Cookman, 10/25 vs Southern, 11/12 vs ALA A&M, 11/19 vs Alcorn & 12/3 vs Southern
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