FORT VALLEY -- After staying patient for most of the recruiting cycle, Peach County’s Debarriaus Miller had a pretty hectic last few days.
The senior found himself one of the more sought after uncommitted prospects in Georgia during the past week.
On National Signing Day, Miller stuck with the team that showed him the most love by signing his national letter-of-intent with Southern Miss. He became the first Peach County FBS signee since 2007, when quarterback Bryan Ellis and defensive tackle Dion Armstrong signed with UAB and Maryland, respectively.
“I think it shows how hard he worked,” Peach County head coach Chad Campbell said. “For whatever reason, we haven’t had a (FBS signee) for a while. He deserves it.”
Miller saw an uptick in interest following his senior season, but the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook quite yet.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound defensive back received attention from UAB defensive line coach Lorenzo Costantini, but it didn’t progress far enough to result in a visit.
But Costantini landed a job with Southern Miss as a part of new head coach Ellis Johnson’s staff. Campbell said Costantini made a call back to Miller and set up an official visit.
“Coach ‘Zo’ really came after (Miller) hard,” Campbell said. “He did a great job showing (Miller) they really wanted him.”
Other schools really started to show interest as signing day approached. Campbell said he got calls from Houston, Central Florida and Troy in the past few days, but Miller had just one weekend left to make one visit.
He stayed with Southern Miss because of Costantini’s recruitment and took his official visit to Hattiesburg on Jan. 27. He committed on his official visit.
“It meant a lot that they really came after me hard,” Miller said. “They were the first to offer. That did it. I was so happy to get that offer.”
Miller joined six other teammates in the Trojans’ signing day ceremony in the school’s library.
All-state linebacker Ryan Bowman and defensive back Justin Jones both signed with St. Augustine’s in Raleigh, N.C. Quarterback Kentel Kendrick landed at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, while all-state linebacker Cassuas Hall signed with Southwest Mississippi Community College. Running back Darion Howard signed with Miles, while defensive lineman Lamont Wray signed with Fort Valley State. Campbell said he expects defensive back Brandon Jones and defensive end Bryan McQuay to also sign in the coming weeks.
“We were a very close group of guys,” said Bowman, who was a four-year letterman with Hall. “This group grew up together, and we’re tight. We played with a lot of heart and accomplished a lot.”
This group of seniors finished their career 49-6. They won the 2009 state championship, and lost to Burke County in the state championship in December. They lost to eventual champion Sandy Creek in the 2010 state semifinals.
“This group will go down with the best of them,” Campbell said. “They meant so much to Peach County. They are special.”