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Insider

McMillian bucks trends by picking UF

3/2/2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Daniel McMillian knew that most people assumed he was going to go to Florida State.

That’s where almost every other big-time prospect from Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast High School has signed. Six Bucs have signed with the Seminoles since 2008, as well as another in 2003. With that pipeline to Tallahassee, Fla., in place -- and the fact that his father is a Seminoles fan -- there was no doubt that McMillian was going to end up there, too.

Until the 6-foot-3, 225-pound four-star linebacker took an unofficial visit to Florida on Jan. 28. By the time it was over, McMillian had instead committed to the Seminoles’ biggest rival.

“I didn’t want to be another, ‘He’s from First Coast, [so] he’s going to Florida State,’ ” said McMillian, who was UF’s third commit for 2013. “I felt like that Florida had what I needed. If FSU would have had what I wanted I would have went there.

“I just did what’s best for my career.”

McMillian liked what he saw about UF’s academic programs, the fact that UF is closer to his home than FSU, and being able to play in the Southeastern Conference. Plus, he saw that he could get on the field early in his career because starting linebacker Jonathan Bostic will be gone by the time he arrives on campus, and two other starters, Jelani Jenkins and Ronald Powell, will be seniors.

“They said I could get very early playing time, but they said it’s up to me whether I’m going to play,” McMillian said. “I have to go there and work hard.”

McMillian said he’s being recruited to play the buck position -- the hybrid end/linebacker spot that Powell plays -- but he will play anywhere. He said he has no problem putting on weight if they wanted him to bulk up to play defensive end.

“I’ll be the person they need,” McMillian said. “Anything that they want from me, I’ll do it.”

McMillian said he’s gotten some good-natured ribbing from friends and teachers about shunning the Noles for the Gators. His dad handled his decision pretty well, too, although he was a bit surprised, since they had visited FSU several times and McMillian said Tallahassee felt like a second home.

“He was like, ‘Uh, well, whatever’s best for you,’ ” McMillian said.

That turned out to be cracking the FSU pipeline.

Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at espndirocco@gmail.com or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.