Woodland Hills’ Miles hopes to raise stock at college all-star game
In an act repeated the world over on a daily basis, Rontez Miles stepped onto a scale the other day.
Outside of perhaps an episode of “The Biggest Loser,” though, few do it for an audience so large.
Or important enough to impress.
“(Tuesday) at the weigh in, there’s 156 scouts sitting out there looking at you in no pads,” Miles said by phone from Allen, Texas, earlier this week. “Crazy.”
What’s not crazy are Miles’ NFL dreams. A Woodland Hills graduate, Miles will participate in Saturday’s Texas vs. The Nation college all-star game at Allen Eagle Stadium.
A safety who recently finished his eligibility as a Division II All-American at California University (Pa.), Miles is one of nine players from NCAA Division II programs participating in the game, which pits college senior standouts from across the country against some of the best who have ties to Texas.
The 6-foot, 202-pound Miles is using the weeklong experience as preparation for the NFL scouting combine later this month in Indianapolis, to which he received an invite.
“Honestly, I never had any doubt I could play NFL football,” Miles said. “I’ve followed the NFL and guys who play in it from around here ever since I was a little kid. I always had that dream and never had a second guess in my mind I could play at the next level.
“Even when I had to go to a D-II school, I still didn’t think it was a problem, definitely more so now after finishing college. Getting the NFL combine invite and all-star game against D-I players opened my eyes.”
There’s no shortage of alumni of some big-time football schools that Miles is competing for attention against. Of the other three safeties on the “Nation” roster, one played at USC and another at Michigan. Two “Team Texas” safeties played at Wisconsin and Miami.
“Out there with them, side by side, it makes it more realistic,” Miles said. “ ‘OK, it’s not as fast as you’d think.’
“When you’re in D-II, you have to deal with, ‘Well, he’s good, but can he compete on the D-I level?’ You want to get out there and know what the big difference is. But from the first practice, it’s clear I can keep up and play with these guys.”
Cal coach Mike Kellar believes Miles, right now, can keep up with safeties currently in the NFL, at least when it comes to run support.
“He truthfully probably is an NFL-type safety right now in the run game,” Kellar said. “Run game-wise, his feel for it, he arrives so suddenly on the running back and is just a great tackler, just such a physical player.”
Kellar credits the youth football and high school programs at Woodland Hills and in the district for some of Miles’ football instincts. George Novak’s Wolverines program had eight graduates play in the NFL last season, most of any high school in the United States.
Miles said he’s reached out to many of the “Woody High” NFL alumni in an attempt to soak in as much as possible as he embarks on a journey he hopes will land him on an NFL roster. With 2 1⁄2 months until the draft, Miles is seen as a possible late-round selection; surely, he will at least be signed as an undrafted free agent and invited to an NFL training camp.
A four-year starter and two-time PSAC West Defensive Player of the Year, Miles had 75 tackles (43 solo) for Cal this season and has received All-America honors nine times over the past two years.
“To see where Rontez came from a few years back as a high school senior to where he’s at now, to see how much he’s grown as a person, to get a degree (in science and technology) and to leave a two-time defensive player of the year and get a chance to be at the NFL Combine … it really is an emotionally gratifying thing,” Kellar said.