When Blake Miller arrived on Clemson’s campus in January as an early enrollee, one of his teammates wasn’t convinced he was just 17 years old.
“We had to check his birth certificate because we thought he was like 25 years old,” Walker Parks said.
Parks, Clemson’s junior right tackle, shares a position room with Miller, so he sees the freshman lineman up close on a daily basis. And sometimes he reps beside him, too.
Miller, one of the Tigers’ two offensive line signees in the 2022 recruiting cycle, is making a move during his first preseason camp to the point that he is getting some occasional first-team reps at right tackle. Parks started all 13 games there last season, but Miller has made enough strides that Parks occasionally slides inside to guard.
Parks indicated he isn’t completely sure if he’ll still playing tackle come Clemson’s Labor Day opener against Georgia Tech.
“Obviously he’s got progress to make as we all do, but he’s more than holding his own,” Parks said. “He did really good in the spring. He’s done really good in the fall. And that’s why he might earn a starting spot on this unit.”
So what it is about Miller that has some of his teammates believing he can help immediately at a position that’s notoriously difficult for true freshmen to typically do so?
Start with Miller’s physical attributes, which have only become more noticeable since the Ohio native arrived on campus eight months ago to go through spring practice. Miller is up to 317 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame, according to the team’s official weigh-ins last week, and has a nasty streak to go with it.
“He’s just kind of quiet and goes about his business, but his physicality is unmatched,” Parks said. “He’s out here finishing dudes.”
Said fellow lineman Marcus Tate, “Blake is just one hell of a monster. He’s nasty. He listens. Once the game slows down for him, it’s going to be a piece of cake. No question.”
Add Miller’s ability to mentally pick up plays and concepts quicker than many first-year linemen, and Parks said Miller may be the most developed freshman he’s ever seen.
“He hasn’t really had any missed assignments, so that’s huge,” Parks said. “But even if he does, he’s coming out here trying to knock a dude’s head off. So when you see that out of a freshman and the fact he’s able to do it from a physical standpoint, that’s extremely impressive from a guy that age. He just turned 18.”
Parks said he’s been splitting his reps between guard and tackle more heavily during the last couple days of practice with Miller getting the first-team reps at tackle when Parks moves inside. Based on what he’s seen since the start of the new year, Parks said Miller has already earned his trust up front.
“If he runs out there (as a starter) Day 1, there’s no issues with that,” he said. “We’re more than confident with Blake Miller.”
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