Hebrew is Bar Milo’s first language, and his Israeli mother and father are apprehensive about his traveling 2,800 miles to Miami to go to college.
So, a quick “Shalom!” (Hi!) or “Ma Nishma?” (What’s up?) would do wonders to make this 6-6, 270-pound teenager feel at home should he be seen strolling across the Coral Gables campus.
He won’t be quite as friendly on the football field.
“I like to make people happy — off the field,” Milo said. “On it I’m not so nice.”
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Milo, 18, is a consensus four-star recruit and the former West Hills (California) Chaminade Prep left tackle who served as UM quarterback Brad Kaaya’s on-field bodyguard when they won a state championship together in 2013.
On Wednesday morning, Milo, rated by ESPN as the nation’s 21st best tackle, will sign a National Letter of Intent to play at Miami, signaling his pending reunion with Kaaya.
“He’s a beast,” said Will Treat, a California-based recruiting analyst with Elite Scouting. “He’s got long arms, a high motor and is very physical. The way he finishes blocks is phenomenal — he usually has someone on their back.
“UM will love what they get.”
But like Kaaya, Milo must wait until at least May to arrive in Coral Gables so he can complete a course in bible studies before he graduates from Chaminade, a Catholic school.
“We’ll be going over the New Testament and Old Testament to keep us enlightened,” said Milo, who, frankly, would rather have been enlightened during UM classes so he could have participated in spring ball. “But I’m making the best of it. The religion teachers here do a great job of keeping it fun.”
Milo, also the starting center on Chaminade’s basketball team, has U.S. and Israeli citizenship and spoke almost all Hebrew until he entered kindergarten. He said his mother, Zohar, is “a stay-at-home mom” who taught him “to be committed fully, to never miss practice and never have excuses.”
His father, Nachshon, is a computer engineer who grew up in northern Israel on Kibbutz Sarid, where Milo’s 20-year-old brother Mor was born.
Milo, who also has an 8-year-old sister, Giah, was born in Houston and has lived in Colorado, Upstate New York and his present home in the small, Southern California town of Oak Park. Neither parent knew about American football when Bar came home in seventh grade begging to play Pop Warner.
“I never saw football in my life,” Zohar said. “I heard it was very dangerous.”
But the stubborn middle-schooler wouldn’t back down, and five years later, both parents have become equally smitten. Both, however, were initially not as certain about sending their son to the University of Miami.
“For him to go so far away from home, we thought at first it wasn’t a good idea,” Zohar said. “But when I visited Miami I loved the place and I loved the coaches. This is what he wants — and they have a Hillel so he can celebrate the Jewish holidays. I’m convinced he’ll be in good hands.”
Milo will be part of a substantial offensive line class with six newcomers, one of whom, junior-college transfer Jahair Jones, is already enrolled. All six are crucial, as three UM starters are leaving to enter the NFL Draft: center Shane McDermott, left tackle Ereck Flowers and left guard Jon Feliciano. Anther two — tackles Kc McDermott and Taylor Gadbois — are coming off knee injuries.
“They said I might have to play my first year,” Milo said. “If that’s what they need, fine. Otherwise I’d like the opportunity to redshirt to get that one year of college experience to learn the playbook and get in the weight room.”
Milo, once as heavy as 315 pounds, said he was told “from other players” that he might play guard, and has concentrated on “losing fat and gaining muscle.” He expects to put on another 15 pounds before May.
He chose Miami over Nebraska, Washington and Arizona State.
“The campus is beautiful and the linemen are a family within a family,” he said. “I see a future in Miami. If I didn’t, I’d have no aspirations of going there. Freshmen are being incorporated, which tells you there are great athletes there, and my boy Brad is killing it.”
Kaaya is prohibited from discussing specific recruits, per NCAA rules.
As for Milo’s religious endeavors, he said he will attend services whenever possible.
In high school, Chaminade would reschedule games if they fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, who atone and fast from sundown to sundown. The next time the holiday falls on a Saturday will be Sept. 30, 2017.
“For me it’s not a tough decision because football is my life and I have to be there for the team,” Milo said. “I’d talk it over with my mom and coaches, but most likely I’d play. I’m willing to take the heat.”
Added Milo: “I’m going to fast.”
West Windsor (N.J.)
Mercer County CC
Bradenton IMG Academy
Brooklyn ASA College
Royal Palm Beach
Miami Booker T. Washington
Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas
West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade
Tyree St. Louis
Bradenton IMG Academy
Calvert Hall (Towson, Md.) College
Birmingham (Ala.) Spain Park
Baton Rouge (La.) Central
Ft. Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons
Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic
Malvern (Pa.) Prep
Bradenton IMG Academy
*Recently signed Letter of Intent