For the past 15 years, maybe longer, the northeast-Atlanta suburb of Buford, Georgia, has been mandatory recruiting territory for college football programs.
Harry Miller, nonetheless, carved his own unique path. Not easy for a program that has produced more than 150 college football signees since 2005, including another 17 in the 2019 haul.
Then again, Miller – a consensus top-100 recruit already signed with the Ohio State — never takes the easy way out. He pledged his Ohio State commitment to Urban Meyer last summer and never wavered when the Buckeyes transitioned into the Ryan Day era.
“It’s funny, when he came in and we’ve had big linemen here and there, ninth-graders who look totally different, but his intelligence level, he just soaked things up really quickly,” said Buford coach Bryant Applying, an assistant at the school for the past 15 years who was promoted in December to head coach.
“He picked up things a lot faster than most did. I knew coming in as an eighth grader how he had high test scores, but sometimes that intelligence doesn’t translate to the football field. He could dissect anything we were trying to teach.”
The 6-foot-4 Miller, a 305-pound U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant, could have even picked up an offer to play defense had Miller wanted to, Appling said.
“Harry liked playing defensive line, he definitely did like playing defense,” Appling, the Wolves’ defensive coordinator the past five seasons, said. “I just remember him doing special things on third and short, fourth and short. He would blows guys off the ball, stalemate guys and throw them away like a rag doll deal. Drove guys 15 yards downfield many times.
“He’s where he is supposed to be, a big-time center or offensive lineman. But he was a difference-maker on defense. His athleticism, strength, smarts and being able to read an offensive lineman’s stance. If he saw white knuckles, he knows the lineman’s firing off the ball, no white knuckles and he’s probably pulling. He was never caught out of place.”
Aside from intelligence on and off the field, Miller also owns a relentless work ethic — evidenced by Miller’s ability to on occasion even beat Appling into the Buford football facilities.
“Harry never met a lift that he did not like, first in, last to leave,” Appling said. “I used to tease him, I’d come in early in the morning and he’d be there rolling out a foam roller, stretching or whatever, he took to it. He found extra time to get more lifts in.
“Just a gym rat.”
The combination of Miller’s physical gifts, size and intangibles have him carving a unique spot in Buford’s considerable tradition of top-flight college talent.
“We’ve had nine or 10 kids every year go to the FBS-level and Harry, we always get kids who are great athletes, can run, catch, have special talents, and Harry is a special talent as well,” Appling said. “His intelligence, work ethic and leadership are three things that set him apart from most of those guys.
“He’s definitely top-5 percent of those guys we’ve had come through here. Harry, honestly, might the hardest working kid we’ve ever had come through to go play at that level. Harry’s going to fit in great at Ohio State for four years.”
In his own way, Harry Miller has once again put Buford on the map.