As a kid growing up near Dallas, Von Miller
was inspired by Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
On the eve of stepping into their shoes and joining the NFL fraternity, Miller has three other inspirations:
, Tony Jerod-Eddie
and Cyrus Gray
This trio aren't players he worshiped, but rather childhood friends he played next to at DeSoto (Texas)
High School and then at Texas A&M.
"The DeSoto Four" are all together in New York City to celebrate Miller's entrance into the NFL during the first day of the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound linebacker and Butkus Award winner is projected to be selected somewhere in the top five.
"This is a dream I've had since I was a little boy," Miller told MaxPreps Wednesday by phone. "And it wouldn't be complete without my friends that I've been playing ball with since we were in the sandbox." Miller
had 65 tackles, six sacks and four pass deflections as a senior, the same year Gray rushed for a team-high 1,032 yards. The versatile Williams played quarterback, receiver and running back that season and Jerod-Eddie, a tackle and defensive end, added 45 tackles.
DeSoto went 10-4 that season (2006-07) and four rounds into the rugged Texas playoffs, before losing to eventual state champion Cedar Hill 42-21.
"Playing Texas high school football – especially in our district – definitely prepared me for the next step," said Miller, who played for coach Dave Meadows. "We had some tough competition. The talent base was deep."
Meadows, now at Morton Ranch-Katy, was a classic old-school, get-in-your-face disciplinarian, according to Miller.
"It was rough," he said. "(Meadows) was from Oklahoma and he was no nonsense. Sometimes you wouldn't like it but he definitely helped me get ready for what I'd see in college."
Nothing could totally prepare Miller for what he experienced both in the recruiting wars heading into college and the last few months of showing off his skills for NFL scouts and coaches.
Miller has embraced the entire experience. He arrived in New York early to promote Gatorade's "
Everything to Prove
" series. He and 13 other NFL prospects tested with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute
(GSS1) to gauge general fitness, nutrition and performance.
"I'm very excited for all that has taken place," he said. "Really, I wish I could slow everything down to truly enjoy all of it. None of it has been a chore at all."
His not-so-secret wish is to be selected by the Cowboys, but he realizes that's a long shot.
"I've always dreamed of being a Cowboy, but if I'm not picked by them I'll be completely excited to go wherever else I'm selected," he said. "When I was at DeSoto, who would have ever thought I'd be where I am now? It's really crazy. Things spin so fast that everything just stops. … I thank God I'm where I am right now."