Damien Hart commits to Miles College

On Jan. 24, Charles Henderson senior linebacker Damien Hart announced his commitment to Miles College in Fairfield.

Hart is coming off a stellar 2022 campaign in which he earned First-Team All-State, All-Messenger and Dothan Eagle Super 12 honors. He closed out his senior campaign with an area-leading 156 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, one interception and three fumble recoveries. As a junior, he also led CHHS with 107 tackles in 2021.

The 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker committed to Miles over offers from other schools like Point University, Iowa-Wesleyan University and Faulkner University.

“I felt like it was my best option (for college),” Hart said of committing to Miles. “I went up there with an open mind and the coaching staff was great. They’re really cool and they said I could get playing time some as a freshman and maybe even start. I don’t plan on sitting on the bench; I want to play now, so that had an impact. I loved the atmosphere up there on campus. It’s nothing crazy big or anything and everyone knows each other, almost like home.”

Miles College boasts a coaching staff full of former college and NFL stars. Former Alabama All-American and 10-year NFL veteran, Sam Shade, who has coaching experience at both the college and NFL level, is the head coach.

The coach that recruited Hart and will be his position coach is linebacker coach Ronald McKinnon, one of the most decorated players in the history of the State of Alabama. McKinnon was an All-State linebacker at Elba High School before becoming one of the best players in college football – at any level – for North Alabama, winning the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is Division II’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. McKinnon went on to play in the NFL for 10 years for the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints. McKinnon has been the linebackers coach at Miles College for nine years. He was on the staff of the Miles team that made its very first Division II Playoff appearance in 2017.

“When I first heard the name it sounded really familiar and then someone told me he played in the NFL and I realized who he was,” Hart said of McKinnon. “The whole coaching staff has NFL experience, which is really cool. The coaching staff up there is phenomenal.”

Hart, who plans to major in history, said he wants his success in high school to translate to the college level.

“I want to do what we did in high school, come onto a team that hasn’t been doing the best and try to make it the best I can, do whatever it takes to help the team,” Hart emphasized. “Charles Henderson went from consistently losing seasons to state runner-up and 13-2 this year. You can’t argue with that and I want us to do that up there.”

National Signing Day is on Feb. 1.