Lions rookie Killebrew ready to rock'em in secondary

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Many college football players look to their elders in the NFL for tips on how to improve their game.

But hard-hitting Lions rookie safety Miles Killebrew said he isn’t patterning his game based on anyone else in the league.

“Well, I’m in the NFL now, so it’s me,” he said Thursday.

The 6-foot-2, 222-pound Killebrew joined the Lions this year as a fourth-round pick, and the team hopes he can bring the hard-nosed style he used at Southern Utah (FCS) to the NFL.

As a senior, Killebrew had 132 tackles and two blocked kicks. He had 101 tackles, four forced fumbles and three interceptions as a junior. 
But Killebrew has been making hard tackles for most of his life.

“The first (hard hit) in my life it was actually in soccer,” he said, recalling a story from when he was 4 or 5. “I learned how to slide tackle, right? So, I was just hitting everybody whether they had the ball or not.”

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The youth soccer officials clearly didn’t appreciate Killebrew’s aggressive tactics as he received red cards as a young boy.
“Soccer, wrong sport for me,” he said.

So Killebrew’s parents moved him to football, and even though Southern Utah was his only scholarship offer, he did enough the past four years to impress NFL teams and earn an invitation to the combine before being a fourth-round pick.

With the Lions, Killebrew will have a chance to put that hard-hitting style on display early in his career. The team’s top two strong safeties from 2015 — Isa Abdul-Quddus and James Ihedigbo — are no longer on the team, and Killebrew’s top competition will come from Rafael Bush, who played just one game due to injury last year, and Tavon Wilson, who hasn’t started a game since 2012.

Miles Killebrew

And from what Killebrew can tell from the first two weeks in Detroit, coaches are looking for big hitters at every position, though the rookie knows he has to improve his overall tackling technique.

Even if Killebrew doesn’t earn the starting job, he could have a role on special teams, which would be another chance to make big hits.

“That’s one of the best parts of football is a great, solid, clean hit,” he said. “So, I love it. I love it just as much as other aspects of the game.”

Twitter: @jkatzenstein