The way Von Miller explains it, some boys take home frogs, lizards and turtles. The ultra-gregarious Miller took home buddies and asked his mom if he could keep them.
One of those friends is 49ers defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie, who grew up eight minutes down the road from Miller, the Broncos’ star outside linebacker, in DeSoto, Texas. The two became best friends as boys, and Jerod-Eddie has since referred to himself as Miller’s little brother.
They had been separated for the last four years but this week found themselves on adjoining fields as their teams scrimmaged.
Miller is widely considered the best edge pass rusher in the league, especially now that Aldon Smith is not playing. Miller will be another test for the shaky right side of the 49ers’ offensive line in Saturday’s exhibition game.
Jerod-Eddie is on the roster bubble, as he always seems to be at this time of year. After being passed over in the 2012 draft, he latched on with the 49ers, largely because he won over his position coach at the time, Jim Tomsula. This year, Jerod-Eddie is part of easily the deepest position group on the team.
In high school, Miller and Jerod-Eddie were about to go through a separation of sorts before Jerod-Eddie’s sophomore year when his mother planned to move from DeSoto to Irving. Both are Dallas suburbs, but the move would have required Jerod-Eddie to attend school in another district.
And that meant the two no longer would line up next to each other on the DeSoto High School defensive line. Jerod-Eddie played inside; Miller played outside. And as with everything else about them, the relationship clicked.
“Those guys could play, but especially Von,” former DeSoto coach Dave Meadows said in a phone interview. “It was almost unfair for him to be rushing against a high school line. Tony wasn’t as quick, but he was stronger. He could bull his way to the quarterback.”
Those guys could play, but especially Von. It was almost unfair for him to be rushing against a high school line. Tony wasn’t as quick, but he was stronger. He could bull his way to the quarterback.
Dave Meadows, former DeSoto High School coach
Break up that duo? Miller had a better idea. He went to his mother, Gloria, with a request: Can Tony stay with us?
“She could have had all types of reactions,” Miller recalled. “But she just said, ‘Oh, OK.’ She hadn’t even met his mom or his dad. She said, ‘OK.’ We called his mom, and my mom and his mom are still really good friends to this day. It’s just life – it happens.”
Miller wasn’t an early riser in high school. Nor was he punctual or all that reliable. Said Meadows: “Von was one of those kids who never had a serious thought about anything.”
Eddie has the opposite personality. He’s quiet and reserved, making him an excellent counter to Miller’s chatterbox, scatter-brained, free-spirit demeanor. It’s why they get along so well.
“I don’t think Von ever got to class on time,” Meadows said. “Tony was always up and ready to go. They’d wake Von up, and he’d go back to sleep. Tony had a steadying influence on him.”
“He’s always the voice of reason,” said Miller, who noted he never would have made his 7 a.m. workout sessions without Jerod-Eddie. “I’m always the guy to get him to loosen up. We make a perfect match.”
Jerod-Eddie still had another year of high school when Miller left for Texas A&M in 2007, but he continued to live with the Millers during his senior year – they even bought him a car – and the next year joined his buddy with the Aggies.
Jerod-Eddie is quiet and reserved, making him an excellent counter to Miller’s chatterbox, scatter-brained, free-spirit demeanor.
Could they be reunited again? Jerod-Eddie can become a restricted free agent in March. And the 49ers’ and Broncos’ general managers – Trent Baalke and John Elway, respectively – had dinner this week and presumably discussed trade scenarios.
“We’re always looking,” Baalke said of trades. “We feel we’ve got good depth in several areas. And it’s no mystery to everybody that you can’t keep them all. So we’ll look at opportunities to better this football team in any way we can.”
Miller said reuniting with Jerod-Eddie would be “just like a movie, just like a fairy tale.” But he figures his buddy has become too valuable for the 49ers to let go.
“He’s going to be a 49er,” he said. “They’re going to keep him there, and he’s going to have a phenomenal year. I just believe it.”