Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: Southeast Region [Print without images]

Monday, February 18, 2013
Coaching change helps UF with McMillan

By Kipp Adams

The University of Florida had several prominent targets on campus Saturday, including one of the more coveted prospects from Georgia. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty Co.) was in Gainesville, Fla., to check out the Gators, and it looks like they have made yet another solid impression on the ESPN Watch List prospect.

Raekwon McMillan
Watch List linebacker Raekwon McMillan already has put a lot of thought into his future school.
“I visited Florida to see what they really had for me,” McMillan said. “I got to sit down with the coaches again and build further on my relationship with Coach (D.J.) Durkin and Coach (Will) Muschamp. Sitting down with the coaches was my favorite part of the visit, as was showing my teammate Jeremy Caldwell-Fabregas around.”

Last month saw Florida lose defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to the NFL, as Quinn accepted a defensive coordinator position with the Seattle Seahawks. The coaching change actually helped the Gators’ standing with the coveted inside linebacker.

“When coach left for the NFL, it actually helped Florida a lot, because Coach Durkin was my recruiter of record and my position coach, and now he is also the defensive coordinator, which really interests me,” McMillan said. “He is building his scheme around the linebackers, and that is a plus.

“Also Will Muschamp is a former defensive back, and he has coached DBs and linebackers, so even if they have changes on his staff, he is still going to have the same scheme and philosophy. You do not have to worry about him leaving the defense out to dry.”

It is clear that Muschamp and his staff have made McMillan an early priority for the 2014 class.

“Florida really picked up on my recruitment,” McMillan said. “Their message to me was that I am the big-time linebacker they will be missing with Jon Bostic leaving, so they need me to be that next best guy to come through and lead the defense at Florida.”

The Gators have a chance to maintain their position for the 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker throughout his recruitment because of the potential he sees at Florida. McMillan explains that few other schools have positioned themselves better than Florida to hoist up the crystal ball over the next few years.

“I see Florida as one of six teams that can win a national championship, because they build around speed at the skill positions on offense, their defensive line is physical and allows for the linebackers to make plays, and their offensive line is always dominant,” McMillan said. “If you put speed around a top-notch line of scrimmage on both sides, you have the recipe of a championship team.”

McMillan says the reason for each of those six teams being in the hunt for titles starts at the top.

“Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Ohio State, Georgia and Clemson have what it takes to win a title, because they have the head coach down to the director of player personnel,” McMillan said. “When you have the right people in those positions, you bring in the right kind of talent, and it shows on national television from the first string to the fourth string. That is what you look for in a program. You want the person next to you to be able to play at the same level as you, even if you are considered one of the best in the nation.”

Ohio State and Clemson are still the top two programs for McMillan, who also recently visited Alabama on Jan. 26 and Clemson on Feb. 2. McMillan plans to visit the Buckeyes again April 1-3 with friend and fellow ESPN Watch List selection Myles Autry (Norcross, Ga./Norcross). While he might name a new top group following that visit, he has a different timeline for more concrete cuts when it comes to schools.

“I am looking at around 15 schools right now, I will break it down to 10 at the end of the summer and then to five before the season starts,” McMillan said. “I am trying to enroll early at the school of my choice and still looking into doing that at the Under Armour All-America Game if I can.”