The Saguaro Sabercats are widely known as one of the top football programs in the state of Arizona. Notorious for the large number of state championships they’ve won and the high caliber of athletes that come out of the program. So when Shawn Miller, a four-star wide receiver in the class of 2022, announced he was transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, it came as a shock to many.
“The decision to transfer from Saguaro to IMG was not an easy one. There was a lot to take into consideration,” Miller said. “Basically, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I knew I couldn’t pass up.”
IMG Academy is an elite athletic and educational performance boarding school for students between 6th and 12th grades. The school sprawls across 600 acres and offers state of the art facilities for student athletes. It’s an opportunity that thousands of student athletes across the country often dream of having, but never have the chance to fulfill.
For Miller, he saw this as a chance for him to really elevate his skills to the next level in hopes of becoming one of the top prospects nationally in the class of 2022. Currently, the recruiting site 247sports.com has Miller as no. 204 on their top prospects list in his graduating class. He’s also listed as no. 30 overall in the state of Florida for 2022 and falls just outside the top-25 wide receivers nationally at no. 27.
“I always try to look and stay ahead. I want to be able to compete and keep pace with the guys ahead of my class as I have done so far, and I feel that attending IMG will allow me that opportunity,” Miller said.
Miller is also looking to make sure the transition from high school to college is as easy as possible, and he feels that IMG Academy provides the best to do so. He recognizes the incredible amount of talent that he’s surrounded with at Saguaro, but also knows that in order for the growth he’s looking for, he has to leave his comfort zone.
One of the biggest changes for him, he says, will be adjusting to being a four hour flight away from home instead of just a car ride away. Miller says that while living out of state to play football isn’t out of the ordinary for his family, he still can breathe a little easier knowing that he has other relatives that live near the IMG Academy campus.
“I’ll be moving in July by myself. My parents have discussed moving down there, but that’s probably not until my senior year,” Miller said. “I’ll settle in well knowing that I do have some family who will be able to check-in.”
Just because he’s leaving the comforts of Arizona, though, doesn’t mean that Miller is ruling out a return to the desert. He currently holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State and Miami, but the Sun Devils are the only one of those schools that had back-to-back receivers picked in the first round of the NFL draft in the last two years.
“The coaches have done a great job and the success of the program speaks for itself. ASU is becoming Wide Receiver U of the west,” Miller said. “ASU holds a special place at heart because they were the first ones to offer.”
Unfortunately because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Miller didn’t get to break the news the way he was wanting to. He was hoping to discuss this with his teammates and coaches in person, but because of the social distancing guidelines and the cancellation of school, he was forced to communicate via phone calls and social media.
While he noted that he had fun during the last two years at Saguaro and said he was thankful for his time there, he is eager to get to the Sunshine State and start learning.
“I’m ready,” Miller said. “I will always show up and compete and represent AZ.”