Not only is Pace Academy in Atlanta the home of five-star offensive guard Jamaree Salyer, one of Clemson’s top targets in the 2018 class, it is also the school that former Clemson cornerback Justin Miller coaches at.
So, as you might expect, Clemson is a topic of discussion for the elite recruit and former Tiger great.
“One practice he just told me what he liked about it, why he picked Clemson, why it was the place for him,” Salyer told The Clemson Insider during our road trip to Pace Academy on Monday. “He just told me wherever I go to school, I’ll be successful. He’s seen me practice, he’s seen me play, so he knows I’ll be successful.”
Miller — who starred at Clemson from 2002-04 before spending six seasons in the NFL with the Jets, Raiders, Cardinals and Lions — is now the defensive backs coach at Pace Academy.
In a way, the Tigers have an extra recruiter on the school’s campus. Miller doesn’t pressure Salyer, but he doesn’t shy away from talking about Clemson, either.
What is Miller’s message?
“I just tell him every day he’d look good in orange and purple,” Miller said. “Clemson is a place that’s fond to me in my heart. It’s a place that I graduated from, it’s a place that I spent my football years at and I grew up as a young man. So any chance I get, I always want to tell any future Tiger to go that way.”
Salyer’s 6-foot-3, 340-pound size, skills and overall physical ability make him one of the nation’s most coveted recruits. But he brings much more to the table than what meets the eye, according to Miller.
“He’s a hard worker. He’s a leader,” Miller said. “He’s a motivator, and I think those are the things that you’re looking for out of every recruit. Those are the intangibles that carry you a long way in this game, and when you can have those type of intangibles, you only set yourself up for success.”
Miller says Salyer is a stand-up person off the field, too.
Being around each other day — as well as the Clemson connection — has helped Miller and Salyer develop a good relationship.
“He’s a great kid. He’s fun to be around,” Miller said. “I laugh and joke with him every day, every chance I get to. But he’s one of those kids, he brings a lot of energy to your program, and he’s somebody that you want to be a part of your program.”
In addition to his duties at Pace Academy, Miller serves as a sports performance trainer to athletes in the Atlanta area.
Miller is grateful to remain involved in multiple ways with the game he is passionate about.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to give back and still be involved in something that I love to do, which is football. There’s a lot of years spent in it, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and through this I’m able to educate these kids about football, about life, about things in general.”
Miller earned freshman All-American honors at Clemson in 2002 when he tied a single-season school record by notching eight interceptions. He also set a Clemson single-game record against Florida State in 2004 by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns and racked up an NCAA-record 282 return yards in the same game.
Salyer is ranked by Rivals as the country’s No. 1 offensive guard and the No. 10 overall prospect in his class.