With graduation and departures to the NFL, the great linebacking core of the Florida Gators 2012 season will see three new starters entering the 2013 season. Antonio Morrison is slated to take over for Jon Bostic in the middle, Ronald Powell and Dante Fowler will split time at the BUCK position, (which is a hybrid defensive end/strong-side linebacker), and the weak side linebacker position is a bit up in the air, with a summer battle between veteran Michael Taylor and freshman Daniel McMillian still yet to be decided.
McMillian, a 6-foot-1, 227 pound linebacker out of First Coast High School in Jacksonville (FL), came to Florida ready to play and ready to play early. McMillian, who can honestly play any of the three linebacker positions, enrolled at the University of Florida in January and began to take names early.
We have seen McMillian play in spring practice as well as at the Orange and Blue Debut, where he stood out by almost nabbing an interception off of Jeff Driskel. That being said, it is still worth taking a look at his highlight tape to see what we can learn.
The first thing you notice on tape is his speed coupled with his size. On the first play of the highlight tape, you see his exceptional straight-line speed and then about 50 seconds in, you see his excellent pursuit skills. For a young man that weighs 227 pounds, McMillian plays with speed like he is 200 pounds. This combination of speed shows that he can quickly close gaps or blitz the quarterback in covering a large area of the football field. Coupled with that ability, McMillan is just as quick as most tight ends and can cover well in the pass. He also has incredible reaction speed to add to his speed and acceleration, a combination that makes him deadly as a weak-side linebacker.
McMillian plays taller than his 6-foot-1 body and plays tougher than 227 pounds. He has a solid, well-built frame that could still support a bit more weight. He is strong in the upper body and looks incredibly strong in his lower body.
McMillian covers well and blocks even better. Time after time, McMillian is doing an exceptional job in coverage and makes a lot of plays on the ball. Just 22 seconds into the film, you see McMillian make a great play in coverage by using his long arms to bat down the ball and make an acrobatic interception.
Furthermore, McMillian is a solid, sound tackler. You see a lot of wrapping-up, rather than a lot of high schoolers that can afford to arm tackle simply because they are stronger than their counterparts.
McMillian, it seems, could use some technical work with his pad level and hip movements. That is something that will be taught immediately and should be easy for a guy like McMillian to pick up with his exceptional football IQ.
McMillian has one of the best tapes out of the class of 2013 and there is a reason he was one of the most coveted linebackers last year. McMillian, unlike most freshmen, will have an opportunity to start this season and could be a three or four year starter for the Florida Gators. Gator fans have to be happy with what they have seen so far.