Jackson State LB Aubrey Miller Jr. hopes to follow path set by Lions’ James Houston

Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — Just a few months after Detroit Lions rookie James Houston took the NFL by storm, there’s another Jackson State prospect looking to make a similar impact.

His name is Aubrey Miller Jr., and he’s a participant at the Senior Bowl down in Mobile, Alabama this week.

He, like Houston, started his college career at an SEC school, playing three years at Missouri before transferring to the historically Black university, which participates in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. He, like Houston, has a pretty big chip on his shoulder, coming into draft season from a non-Power-5 school.

“That’s my brother,” Miller said of Houston Tuesday. “Since we got there, we already knew we had…close to the same stories, as far as getting the second chance to be able to play. And now, this is our chance to make up for the opportunity that we did lose.”

In his senior season, Miller (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) had 65 tackles, two sacks, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Houston came up with eight sacks and a forced fumble over an 11-game rookie season with the Lions.

And yet, Houston is convinced that Miller — who could very well go undrafted — is a better player than he is. Talking on locker-room clean-out day, Houston said of his former teammate, “That’s a dawg right there.”

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“When y’all say I’m a dawg, that’s a real dawg. … He’s a hard-nosed football player, man. He’s gonna come at you any type of way: Fast, physical, aggressive,” Houston said.

“He’s just one hell of a football player and I really hope a lot of people can see that. Coming where we come from, HBCUs, people might not respect the talent or whatever it is, but he definitely is a football player.”

Miller, who said he’s been in frequent communication with Houston for the last year, was quite flattered.

“That means a lot, because he’s out here performing on a high level on, really, the biggest stage you can play,” Miller said. “And he’s still able to give me a compliment like this, so that means a lot to me. The only thing I can do is keep trying to live up to the expectation.”

There is one area where they don’t quite overlap: Versatility. Houston had to reach his NFL dream by realizing he was simply born to rush the passer. Miller, who said he models his game off Hall-of-Famers Derrick Brooks and Ray Lewis, will look to reach the next level behind an array of abilities. He plays more off-ball, but had plenty success as a pass rusher. He can play middle or strong-side linebacker, but prefers the weak-side.

“We already knew that we’re underestimated because of our height, cause of what people say that’s not our strength, so we already knew what we gotta do,” Miller said. “We’re fast, we’re strong, so we gotta make sure we use that. We’re able to dip, we’re able to bend. So we still have an advantage.”

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But as far as what he does best, Miller said it’s his communication.

“I’m a great communicator. Fast to the ball, very strong. I see a lot of things,” Miller said.

“The key things that you want a linebacker to be, that’s kind of what I try to focus on.”


Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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