CLINTON — Silliman Institute’s Jozie Milton has been taking all the attention he’s been receiving lately in stride.
“I thank my coaches, family and teammates for always pushing me and keeping me humble,” Milton said during a campus pep rally recognizing the school’s senior football players and cheerleaders. The 6-3, 290-pound lineman was officially presented his game jersey for the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl, which will be played Dec. 14 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. J.J. McCleskey, who will serve as an assistant coach in the all-star contest, made the presentation before a packed gym.
“It’s a first-class, all-star game and it’s an opportunity for these young men to showcase their skills,” said McCleskey, of the Blue-Grey contest. “The staff is made up of experienced coaches from the NFL and college ranks who want to help the kids develop. They are all top prospects and it’s by invitation only.”
Milton will be among a handful of players from Louisiana invited to play in the game that features top players from around the country. Milton, who has a verbal commitment to play for coach Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, said he attended a high school football combine in Dallas with his brother and teammate Jordan Talley over the summer.
“I was honored when they talked to me and my dad and asked if I could play,” Milton said.
McCleskey said he has been impressed with what he’s seen of Milton.
“Look at him,” said McCleskey, who played defensive back for the Tennessee Volunteers and then the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals. “He runs a 4.8 (seconds) in the 40-yard dash and he’s explosive off the line of scrimmage. Steve Spurrier wouldn’t take a kid unless he has the potential to be a great player.”
Milton said his senior season hasn’t been as good as he’d hoped. He was limited through the first four games with mononucleosis and then a sprained ankle kept him out of the 53-0 win over Wayne Academy. Still, he’s excelled on both sides of the ball with 81 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, seven sacks and six forced fumbles on defense and he has been credited with 28 pancake blocks on offense.
He’s projected to play center for the Gamecocks.
“I still get (recruiting) phone calls, but I’m pretty loyal,” Milton said. “I haven’t taken any official visits yet but I will when I get the time.”