Clemson added its first commitment of the ‘22 class through the addition of Blake Miller, who caught everyone off guard with the timing of his announcement. The 4-star tackle hails from Ohio, and continues Clemson’s run of success in recruiting Offensive Linemen out of the Buckeye state. Speaking of the Buckeyes, Ohio State also pursued Miller hard, but it was Dabo Swinney and staff who eventually won out.
Miller had recently released a top-5 of Clemson, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, and Michigan, but this recruitment was likely always going to come down to Clemson and Ohio State. Just as important as a win on the recruiting trail over Ohio State is the fact that Clemson now has its first player in its ‘22 recruiting class. The Tigers can really get the ball rolling with other targets in the class now that there is a player or players who will be advocates for the program.
Who doesn’t love landing huge linemen? Standing at a fairly lean 6’6”, 310 pounds, Miller is the size every football coach wants their offensive tackles to be. His frame carries the weight well, and he possesses good arm length. These are ideal traits, and reasons why Clemson was so willing to take Miller’s commitment early.
He is athletic and moves well for someone so large. This manifests itself on the football field in numerous ways. Miller’s acceleration off the line of scrimmage during some plays really stands out, especially in the run game while going downhill or pulling. His lateral agility, change of direction, and ability to move in space are all impressive for someone his size. Miller excels while pulling and/or blocking in space, and dominates opponents when engaged in the block. He is most effective when he plays with leverage, using his size to dominate opposing linemen.
Blake also shows a lot of promise in pass protection as well. His pass set is a plus, and in addition to moving well out of his stance, his size and length make it very difficult to get around him. While his foot speed could be better on a down-to-down basis, I’m impressed by his patience and hand technique. I do think he could be more assertive in pass protection, and although his initial punch is effective while run blocking, it’s not as apparent during passing downs. Finally, Miller bends well and looks to have the flexibility to stick at tackle. Anchored by a strong base and long arms, he convincingly wins nearly every passing rep on film.
Opportunities for Improvement:
The #1 area for Miller to improve would be his leverage in the run game. When he plays with it, he is a dominant run blocker and potential mauler. He plays too high off the snap and loses his leverage at times, but has been able to get away with it because of his local competition in Ohio. That Blake’s level of competition doesn’t seem to be that high muddies his evaluation a bit too.
Miller also can continue to get stronger. He has the frame to be able to add more muscle and the requisite weight to increase his strength. But how much more weight will be added to his frame? Does he get too heavy to play tackle? These are questions evaluators will be asking throughout the cycle.
The last few things I’ll harp on with Miller is something I discussed in the positives section. In pass protection Blake can be more physically dominant and really finish his blocks. He already has been coached well on technique, and so adding an additional nastiness to his game will make him even more difficult to deal with.
Blake Miller is currently a composite 4-star rated as the 210th player in the country according to 24/7 Sports’ Composite Rankings, but I believe he could possibly rise into the top 100-150 range. His ultimate ranking likely comes down to his position projection. Does he stick at tackle, or does he end up inside? I believe he can stick outside preferably as right tackle, but he could be equally effective on the interior of the line as well. Miller’s length, athleticism, and technique are all things that lend well to him remaining a tackle prospect, but his potential versatility is also a trait Robbie Caldwell covets. Watch his Junior season highlights here.
Blake Miller represents the first commitment in next cycle’s class, an important class when you consider how COVID-19 derailed the potential of the ‘21 class. As I touched on at the beginning of the article, adding advocates for the program is hugely important especially with visits not currently permitted. The way Clemson typically recruits is not particularly compatible with the guidelines in place for recruiting right now, and the lack of visits has hurt the Tigers as a result. However, things are finally picking up behind the scenes. I don’t expect the perceived struggles with recruiting to persist for much longer, and more good news could be on the way in short order.\