DL Rylie Mills, 6-5, 270; Lake Forest (Ill.) High
The numbers: Mills recorded 37 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss and four sacks across 10 games as a junior. Lake Forest (5-5) fell in the opening round of the IHSA Class 6A playoffs.
The rankings: 247Sports — Four stars, No. 8 SDE, No. 170 overall. Rivals — Four stars, No. 10 SDE, No. 155 overall.
First impression: Mills flashes versatility as a defensive lineman and even excels at left tackle. He brings the strength and size to man the three-technique position for Lake Forest. He possesses enough speed and quickness to make plays off the edge as well. Mills' motor, get-off and hand-eye coordination should help him become a serviceable player at the next level.
Strengths: Most of Mills’ battles are won by his strength alone. With a bench press of over 350 pounds, Mills relies on his strong upper body often. He uses his violent hands to bull-rush through his opposition or swat them to the side. Mills’ solid motor and get-off also contributes to his heavy backfield presence. He’s quick enough to squeeze through crevices when linemen are pulling or are out of position. Mills can track down backside or outside runs with his decent speed. He has a knack for batting down passes.
Proof of prowess: (:19) Pulling guards away from Mills will not end well. On this counter play, the departing right guard leaves his right tackle responsible for blocking Mills. With Mills’ quick get-off, a slight delay can easily result in him swarming to the backfield. The right tackle hardly makes contact with Mills here … (1:05) Mills begins this play with a high pad level, which results in him grabbing the top of the center’s shoulder pads. Strong enough to recover, Mills still finds a way to shove his opposition to the ground.
(1:13) The offense adds a couple blockers responsible for Mills on the outside run. His bull-rush powers through both players as he pushes them five yards back … (2:15) The running back weaves through Lake Forest’s defense, allowing Mills to catch up. Mills deserves credit, though, for closing in on him and not giving up.
Competition level: Illinois produced a decent amount of talent in recent years. In the last four recruiting classes, 26 Illinois products finished with a four-star rating or higher via 247Sports. Iowa defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa (2017) marks the only one of those to garner a five-star rating on 247Sports.
Only five 2020 Illinois recruits hold a rating higher than three stars, per 247Sports. Mills has not faced many of the state’s top offensive line recruits either. Lake Forest (Ill.) High competes in Illinois’ third-largest classification — IHSA 6A. On a national scale, Mills plays against average competition. At 6-5, he dwarfs most opposing linemen by at least a few inches.
Left to prove: With fewer than four tackles per game, Mills needs better production next season. A handful of his best plays came against inferior competition or whiffed blocks. He gets away with solely relying on his strength at times. His power allows him to recover when out of position. Mills must sharpen his technique and become more agile.
Finding an identity will be imperative for Mills. The Irish project him at both the three-technique and big defensive end. Mills looks better suited to play inside with his strength and size. He might not possess the bend or quickness to operate off the edge. How Mills' body develops and what the Irish need, though, should determine which spot he fills. To become a quality three-technique, Mills will need to add weight while maintaining his strength and athleticism.