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April 21, 2009

National Notes: Montana produces a big-time talent

Montana is hardly one of the nation's top recruiting hot spots, but college coaches this spring will be flocking to Big Sky Country to check out athlete Matt Miller of Helena Capital.

For the first time in quite some time, Miller could be a national recruit from the state.

He already has scholarship offers from Stanford, Boise State, Oregon State, Arizona State, Wyoming, Colorado State, Washington State, Oregon, Montana, Montana State, Harvard and Dartmouth. He is also starting to get some major attention from national powers all over the country.

"Matt is a tremendous athlete," Capital coach Pat Murphy said. "He's probably the best football recruit to come out of Montana in a long time."

What makes Miller such an attractive prospect is his versatility.

At 6 feet 4 and 205 pounds, Miller was named the state's offensive most valuable player at receiver in 2008. Last year, he had 932 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns. He also had an additional 663 yards on the ground and six more scores. Miller also was named to the all-state team on defense in both 2007 and 2008 and helped his team win state championships in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

"He could play big-time football at receiver, defensive back or linebacker," Murphy said. "I think his best chance at success would be to play safety or outside linebacker. He is 6-4, 205 now, but he could easily put on 30 pounds in a few years. Then you would have a very fast athletic 6-4, 235-pound wrecking ball.

"But again, he is a great receiver, too, because he runs so well."

Murphy said Miller is a complete player both on and off the field.

"What makes him special is his size and speed," Murphy said. "Even though he is tall, he moves like a quick little guy. He has speed, athleticism and can jump. To top it off, he is aggressive and has great football instincts. He is very smart as well and takes honors classes. He's the complete package."

A complete package who is about to become one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation.

"We're excited about the amount of attention Matt's received so far," Murphy said. "But we're not surprised. He's a very talented player and is worthy of all of the interest that he's been receiving."

SEC SCHOOLS SCORE BIG

Southeastern Conference schools proved this past week it pays to be aggressive early in the spring evaluation process. Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Alabama all landed significant commitments over the weekend.

The Wildcats got on the board for 2010 with a commitment from Justin Henderson, a 6-foot-3, 228-pound defensive end from Bamberg (S.C.) Bamberg-Ehrhardt. Henderson had plenty of attention from schools all over the nation, but he said playing in the SEC was too good to pass up.

"We were actually headed up to Penn State this weekend, but me and my dad got to talking while we were in the car," Henderson said. "I started thinking about how much I want to play SEC ball. We wound up turning the car around and went to Kentucky instead. I just fell in love with the place. I've got some family up there, I really like how the coaches have been recruiting me, and like I said, it's an opportunity for me to play SEC ball for a program that's on its way up."

Auburn's big commitment came from Olive Branch, Miss., offensive tackle Shon Coleman. The 6-7, 275-pounder was the fourth pledge for the Tigers, and Coleman is likely to be one of the top-ranked players in the state. Coleman picked Auburn over offers from Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Southern Miss and Florida International.

"I feel real excited," Coleman said. "Auburn has been recruiting me since last fall so I think I'm making a real good decision. Everything about Auburn is good football-wise and the coaching staff. I've built a good relationship with the coaching staff."

After scoring a commitment from Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola linebacker Marc Deas earlier, Georgia pulled in a pledge from teammate B.J. Butler, a 6-3, 235-pound defensive end, last week. Butler chose the Bulldogs over Michigan, Texas Tech, Alabama and Florida.

LSU continued its hot start when it landed Luke Muncie, a linebacker from Klein (Texas) Oak. It was the Tigers' eighth commitment, and it was a very welcome addition. Muncie, who could also play safety in college, chose LSU over offers from Michigan, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Arizona and many others.

"I've liked LSU since I was little," Muncie said. "I just watched them on television and I've (been) around the campus a couple of times. I couldn't be happier with my decision."

Alabama got a kick-start on its 2011 recruiting class when Prichard (Ala.) Vigor receiver Marvin Shinn committed to the Tide after visiting for the spring game. Shinn finished his sophomore season with 46 catches for 872 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is expected to be one of the top-ranked prospects in Alabama in the 2011 class.

RISING FAST

Some college coaches have been whispering that Corona, Calif., defensive back Demetrius Wright might end up being more of an impact player than Jordon James, his talented running back teammate. After Wright's amazing weekend it might be tough to argue against them.

After a very strong showing at the NIKE Combine on Saturday with a solid 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash, Wright turned in a dominating performance at the NIKE Camp on Sunday in Los Angeles. Wright was one of the camp's top overall players and definitely ranked as one of the top three defensive backs. Rivals.com analyst Barry Every liked how Wright could be an impact player at both corner and safety.

"Even though passing drills are non-contact, he did not think twice about popping kids with a full head of steam," Every said. "He's another California athlete whose offer list is about to explode into double digits. He has the ability to play either safety position or an outside chance of playing corner. Wright will remind college fans of Michigan signee Justin Turner from last season."

Wright said Oregon and Arizona are his co-leaders at this point.

"I want to take all my trips during the season and see what it's like on game days to see the atmosphere," Wright said. "UCLA was up there on top before, but they've not offered me yet. I think they're kind of dragging their feet. I also like Tennessee, Washington and a few others."

ETC.

Anaheim (Calif.) Servite defensive tackle Kirifi Taula has added scholarship offers from Wake Forest and Arizona. Taula said he is hoping to hear more from California, USC, UCLA and Oregon. "I'd like to stay close to home, but I'm open to anybody that [is] interested in me," Taula said.

There are reports that East Carolina has picked up its second commitment, from Charlotte (N.C.) Providence athlete Damon Magazu (5-11, 170). ECU had earlier received a commitment from Drew Gentry, a 6-6, 284-pound offensive tackle from Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian.

BYU has added a commitment from 6-3, 290-pound defensive tackle Travis Tuiloma of Topeka (Kan.) Washburn Rural. "My family wanted me to go to BYU," Tuiloma said. "They wanted me to go to BYU real bad, so I could get a great education and stay strong in the Church." Tuiloma is the sixth commitment for the Cougars.

Baylor received its third commitment for 2010 with a pledge from Antwan Goodley, a 6-0, 185-pound receiver from Midland, Texas.



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