The key defensive players at USC and UCLA obviously impressed NFL scouts.
Willie McGinest, the big, strong Trojan defensive end, was the fourth player chosen in the draft, by the New England Patriots, and Miller, the Bruins' big, quick junior linebacker, was picked by Arizona 10th.
As expected, another Southland star, wide receiver Johnny Morton of USC, also was drafted in the first round. Morton, picked by the Detroit Lions, was the 21st choice.
McGinest and Miller said they were still in shock shortly after being selected in early rounds Sunday, whereas Morton thought maybe it was the happiest moment of his life.
"I really didn't expect to go so high," McGinest said. "You can't believe how happy I am and how exciting this is.
"I can only think that the scouts appreciated how hard I worked since the season ended. It made me realize that I did the right thing when I went back to USC for my final year.
"I couldn't eat last night or this morning. The suspense was just too much. Now, I'm hungry."
Patriot Coach Bill Parcells said he received numerous offers for the No. 4 pick, but said McGinest was better than any offer.
"It would have taken a bit to take us out of this spot," Parcells said. "We will use him as an outside linebacker.
"Willie was a guy generating tremendous interest around the league. All this stuff comes out in the wash. We'll find out."
Miller came out a year early and it paid off.
"Yes," he said with a laugh, "it means instant riches. I didn't expect to be picked this high, but it sure was exciting to hear my name called."
Miller received the news at a private party in Hollywood held by his agents, Harold Daniels and Josh Luchs of Professional Sports Incorporated. The gathering roared its approval at the announcement. A few seconds later tears streamed down Miller's face as he received a big hug from his mother.
Also on hand was Miller's UCLA teammate, wide receiver J.J. Stokes. Both are juniors, but while Miller opted for the draft, Stokes, who most certainly would have been drafted early, elected to stay.
"It was exciting," Stokes said. "And I'm happy for Jamir. But I know I made the right move for me. My turn will come next year."
Dallas, which had the 28th pick in the first round, had hoped to get Miller, even sending a representative to the party.
"It makes me feel especially good to have someone like Buddy Ryan (the Cardinals' head coach) feel that I'm that good," Miller said. "I know I'll fit into his defense.
"I started thinking about playing pro football when I was a senior at El Cerrito. From then on I hoped someday to be in the NFL.
"I also feel someone was looking after me, after those two incidents last year," added Miller, 20, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for possession of a loaded firearm in public and for receiving stolen property.
Ryan has already named Miller to his starting lineup at right linebacker.
"We're giving Jamir the starting job. It's up to him to lose it," Ryan said. "We looked at him against USC last year and the whole game was a highlight film."
There will still be a USC connection for Morton, the sure-handed wide receiver. The Lions' coach, Wayne Fontes, was an assistant under John Robinson during the Trojan coach's first tenure at USC.
UCLA nose guard Bruce Walker, 6-foot-4 and 290, went in the second round. He was chosen by Philadelphia, the 37th player picked. Chuck Levy, the former Arizona quarterback from Lynwood High, was picked 38th by the Arizona Cardinal. Jason Sehorn, a USC defensive back, was taken 59th by the New York Giants and Vaughan Parker, a UCLA guard, was selected 64th by the San Diego Chargers.