January 16, 2012

Elite junior LB nabs Tide offer

On Friday, 2013 star linebacker Daniel McMillian wore his Alabama hooded sweatshirt to school. Little did he know that UA head coach Nick Saban would call him that same day to offer the Florida native a scholarship to play for the Crimson Tide.

"Words can't explain it," McMillian said. "It was wonderful. He was excited to offer me, and he said he only offers the best of the best. He sees me playing where (Courtney) Upshaw was playing."

At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, McMillian possesses that rare combination of speed and power. He played inside linebacker for First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Fla., this past year, but wants to play on the edge when he gets to college.

"I play inside now, but I plan on, when I get to college, playing outside (linebacker), a hybrid," McMillian said. "I describe myself as a playmaker. I'll bring the hits and stuff, but I'm more of a playmaker. If you need a play made, I'm the one for it. I'm good at using my hands and my agility, and I have speed and quickness for a linebacker."

As as sophomore, McMillian played defensive end for the Buccaneers but moved to linebacker this season where First Coast defensive coordinator Fred Culver says he thrived both as a player and as a leader on the team.

"Daniel's a hell of a football player," Culver said. "He's our Mike linebacker. In 10th grade, we played him at defensive end because he's such a great athlete and we had all those great linebackers.

"Now he calls the plays on defense, and one of his greatest attributes is his leadership on and off the field. He leads by example. In the offseason workout, he's always up front, the first one to finish, the first one in the weight room, the last one to leave."

Alabama joins an elite list of schools that have already offered McMillian, a list that includes Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, South Carolina and West Virginia.

The 2013 star wouldn't name any favorites at this point, but Culver believes the Crimson Tide would be among his top schools.

It doesn't hurt that McMillian's teammate at First Coast, wide receiver Chris Black, just enrolled at UA last week as part of Alabama's 2012 recruiting class. The two are good friends both on and off the field.

"Yeah, we're pretty close," McMillian said. "We've hung out at Coach Culver's house all the time and talked. It would be wonderful if I can (play with Chris)."

In the Florida Class 7A State Championship Game, McMillian finished with 12 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, in a losing effort.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.


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