MOBILE, Ala. — Don’t blame Harlan Miller if, deep down, he has an I-told-you-so attitude.
Don’t blame him if he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Don’t blame him if he says things like, “I was under-recruited” or “they missed out on me.”
Don’t blame him because the former Southeastern Louisiana cornerback is here — in Mobile at the Senior Bowl as one of the nation’s best pro prospects despite the odds against him.
Miller is from Tangipahoa — not the parish, but the “village” of about 800 people just south of Kentwood.
He, somewhat, raised himself, the product of a two-family home.
He received zero major college offers as a quarterback out of Kentwood High School, and he didn’t play cornerback until college.
But, here he is, at this showcase in south Alabama reserved only for college football’s best veterans.
So don’t blame him.
“I always have the chip on my shoulder that a lot of teams missed out on me,” Miller said. “I let my playing on the field do the talking for me.”
Miller is just one of nine players here who hails from the Football Championship Subdivision, and he’s en route to becoming just the second Southeastern player to be drafted in the past 30 years.
He could join cornerback Robert Alford, a second-round pick to the Falcons in 2013, as the only drafted Lions since 1984. Both have come under current Southeastern coach Ron Roberts, a defensive guru of sorts who has turned the Hammond-based program from cellar-dweller into playoff contender.
Having a Lion’s name called in late April is a plus for the Southland Conference squad.
“The exposure we get as a university, not just our athletic program … It helps everybody across the board,” Roberts said. “The exposure, you can’t buy it anywhere else.”
Roberts, bundled in his white Southeastern jacket, watched Miller race around Ladd-Peebles Stadium during a windy and chilly Wednesday afternoon.
There were lows.
Miller dropped a punt, for instance. Later, Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard, a second-to-third round projection, beat him on a deep route for a touchdown.
A play later, Miller rushed up on Southeast Missouri State receiver Paul McRoberts, smacking him to the ground to limit a completion to short yardage.
NFL scouts, coaches and staff members circled around the practice field watching. Roberts had a better view in the stands.
“They see the athleticism,” Roberts said. “The football intelligence is very high. He’s coachable. I think those things are huge. His ability… you’re going to enjoy being around him on a day to day basis. There’s a lot of guys out there you can’t say that about.”
Harlan, 6-foot, 182 pounds at Monday’s weigh-in, is described as tall and rangy by former LSU defensive back and fellow Senior Bowl invitee Jalen Mills. Mills compares Harlan’s body type to ex-Tigers cornerback Jalen Collins, a second-round selection last year.
“He’s quicker than most people think he is,” Mills said.
Mills and Miller played similar roles during the first two days of practice at the Senior Bowl — rotating between nickel back and cornerback.
Most of the scouts encompassing the practice field know all about Mills, the Tigers’ four-year starter, Freshman All-American in 2012 and a Southeastern Conference namesake for a half-decade. Miller, meanwhile, played in the Southland Conference. Despite his career 11 interceptions and FCS All-American honors, he’s less known to the eyeballs surrounding him.
“You have a lot of lower school guys here,” Mills said. “They’re putting on a show. It’s not about what school you came from. It’s if you can play football.”
That’s not the issue for Miller. After all, there’s not much else to do in Tangipahoa.
“We really got one red light,” Miller said. “You play basketball or play football. That’s about it.
“It’s a village,” he said. “It’s not a town.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.