Looks Like University Of Illinois - Shawn Miller

Jul 19, 2021

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I've given up on tying to catch up on LLUOI posts by writing them in order of when they committed. And I spent some time yesterday watching Shawn Miller film and reading Shawn Miller's Twitter timeline, so I should probably write the Shawn Miller LLUOI next. Then it's just Badie and Fries and I'm caught up, I think. Oh, and Epps on the basketball side.

Shawn Miller - I'll be honest - this is as excited as I've been about a football recruit since Reggie Love. Let me look this up... Reggie Love committed on April 7, 2019. So this is the most excited I've been about a single football recruit in 832 days.

First off, I don't understand how he's not a four-star. Actually, I understand how he's not a four-star. I mean that more in the rhetorical. That doesn't make sense. I'll start over.

Shawn Miller should be a four-star recruit. He's not a four-star recruit, in my opinion, because he transferred to a development academy (IMG Academy in Florida). So he went from 4-star recruit after his sophomore season in Arizona to high 3-star recruit after one season at IMG. (A season, I should note, which was limited to eight games).

And we can look at his profile and see exactly when he dropped in 247's rankings:

A 90 (four-star) in their December rankings, but dropped to an 88 in their February rankings. Let me see if I can find a possible reason for that.

Oh hey look at that. IMG's starting wide receivers during the 2020 season: senior Jacorey Brooks, a 5-star recruit going to Alabama, senior Malik McClain, a 4-star recruit going to Florida State, and senior Ari Allen, a 3-star football recruit who chose a lacrosse scholarship at Ohio State. So let's see if we can figure this one out.

  • Sophomore year of high school Shawn Miller has a breakout season at Saguaro HS in Arizona. According to this tweet, at the time, 247 ranked him as the #204 player in the 2022 class (and a 4-star).
  • No recruiting happens that offseason because of Covid. In May 2020 (mid-quarantine), he announces that he's transferring to IMG Academy in Florida. This article has more details on the transfer (including the factoid that he was ranked as the #27 receiver nationally at the time).
  • He doesn't get a "camp season" at all. No visits, no on-campus camps, no Under Armour camps - Covid shut everything down.
  • He then plays his 8-game junior season at IMG. The IMG passing attack? 5-star JJ McCarthy throwing to 5-star Jacorey Brooks and 4-star Malik McClain (plus 4-star junior Shawn Miller and the lacrosse kid).
  • After that season (the stats I can find on MaxPreps say 12 catches for 205 yards), he drops to 3-star status and the #67 receiver nationally in the 2022 class.

From what I can find, in their eight games, here's the stats for the IMG receivers:

Ari Allen - 28 catches for 414 yards
Jacory Brooks - 16 catches for 306 yards
Malik McClain - 15 catches for 258 yards
Shawn Miller - 12 catches for 205 yards

I don't know that this is the case here. I don't know for a fact that evaluators saw 12 catches for 205 yards and said "yeah, maybe he's not a 4-star". I do know that there were no camps, no visits, no in-person evaluations during the time period from when he was the #204 player in the composite rankings to when he dropped to where he's listed today (497). If all of that happened during Covid when no recruiting or evaluation activity was allowed, my only assumption is that he dropped 300 spots because of his junior season at IMG where he was 4th on the team in receptions.

Also, I'm an Illinois fan and I want the players to be better than their ranking.

He still was getting high major offers during this time. The full list of his Power Five offers: Miami, Arizona State, Arizona, NC State, Syracuse, West Virginia, Michigan State, and Indiana. He put together a final five of Illinois, Michigan State, West Virginia, Indiana, and Arizona, visited all five, and picked Illinois.

And his film looks like this:

Now, granted, that's 5-star Michigan recruit JJ McCarthy throwing a perfect ball, but that's as repeatable as football gets. Watch that play again three times and only watch how Miller doesn't lose speed as he cuts it to the edge. If you can curl a route like that and then run away from the defender (and, obviously, if you have a QB who can toss a bullet like that), then run this play 37 consecutive times until they stop it. Fluidity = fantastic football.

Here's some more fluidity. This pass was eventually complete, but Miller had to come to a stop as he caught it (McCarthy was hit as he let it go). But the point isn't the touchdown Miller scored (nor is it the confusion in the defensive backfield). It's the fluidity of a fluid athlete.

Bhebhe was a great college receiver, but this is the one area where he was lacking. It's also, in my opinion, why he wasn't drafted. A little stiff in and out of his cuts (love you, Bhebhe). I like Miller's film a lot because he's so - what's the word? - fluid.

I also like that he included practice film (a bonus of going to IMG, I'm guessing). Here's a few clips from practice.

On this one, there's this little subtle burst that sends him right past the corner.

You might be thinking "Robert, aren't there hundreds of college receivers who can run like this?", and the answer is probably yes, but I think Ricky Smalling was the last film I reviewed that had this kind of "runs like a receiver". Brian Hightower is big and strong and tall and physical, and Khmari Thompson has straight-line track speed, but this is the first WR recruit in a while that runs like a receiver (strange as that may sound). I gave James Frenchie 3.5 Cruises, but I even noted on that one that I thought he'd be a defensive back. Just didn't see receiver.

Here, I see a receiver:

Throw this back in my face when he moves to free safety in 2023.

I can tell I'm a little wound up here, and I know I just blew through the "Rivals dropped him from 4-star to 3-star, and 247 dropped him from 4-star to 3-star, so pay attention to that and Cruise accordingly" stop sign. But I just can't help it. Feels like this is the best recruit to verbal in 832 days. And because of that...

Shawn Miller - Four Tom Cruises


ClassOfDeeDeronJames on July 19, 2021 @ 06:49 PM

Four Cruises achievement unlocked for the new staff. I've been incredibly impressed with the early momentum they've built. Seems they are really connecting with recruits. Can't wait to see it translate to the field.

Groundhogday on July 20, 2021 @ 02:05 AM

I'll file this under "put in the work, and sometimes you catch a break." Really, really like this recruit.

ktcesw on July 20, 2021 @ 08:42 AM

I love that he gets his hands under balls instead of knocking them down!

ItsTBaggins on July 20, 2021 @ 02:59 PM

I am very high on this kid. Hopefully he’ll move back up the recruiting rankings with a good season next year and someone associated with Illinois football will get some real credit for once

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