Injury kept Josh McMillon from having the type of experience at The Opening he had hoped for, but the chance to just relax before his recruitment enters a pivotal phase may have been just what the doctor ordered. While in Beaverton the four-star linebacker reported that an early decision just may be on the horizon.
“Maybe August, maybe September,” McMillon said regarding his decision timeframe.
Joining those three programs in McMillon’s top five are Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, but the upcoming trips to Tuscaloosa (July 12th), Auburn (to be determined), and Michigan (July 27th) puts that trio in an enviable position.
For Michigan the visit serves as an opportunity to cement the strong first impression it made back in April.
“I went up there and I had no idea about Michigan,” McMillon recalled. “My cousin is an alumni of Michigan. He always mentioned to me, ‘just take a trip… just take a trip. A trip has everything to say on its own.’ So we finally gathered up some time, my dad and I, (and) my brother, we took a trip up there and it was just fantastic. They’ve got the new (football building). I was actually the first recruit to ever be in it. They’ve got (the footballs representing) every win. Everything is just great. The whole staff came out to meet me as I came up. It was just great. Real good hospitality up there.”
He was also impressed by Michigan’s academic prestige.
“I think that was the first place we stopped at, was the engineering program. They have the top in the country. I think they are number three as far as the major. What I’m interested in is nuclear and aerospace engineering. They are real big. I think one of the big people in New York just donated 200 million… 100 million to the engineering program and 100 million to athletics. They are real big on academics.”
In retrospect it was a visit that left an indelible mark. Suddenly the Wolverines thrust into his group of favorites. They’ve managed to stay there thanks in large part to his connection with one particular staff member.
“It has to be Coach Singletary… Chris Singletary,” McMillon said with a smile. “That’s my man. He actually has been talking (with me) since I have been out here. He tweeted me, checked on my hamstring. I haven’t even tweeted it out. I don’t know he found out. He makes sure he keeps dibs on me.”
One of the topics of discussion in recent weeks has been Michigan’s dwindling scholarship availability. McMillon is well aware that there is only one scholarship left for a linebacker, but he has made it a point to not let it affect his recruitment.
“They said I was number one on their boards, so I feel like if they did take someone it would be my loss rather than theirs,” he stated.
While that clearly is a reflection of his favorable view of the Maize & Blue, there are obviously very strong feelings for his remaining suitors. Arch-rivals Auburn and Alabama will both have opportunities to fortify their positions.
“I’ve been to Auburn and Alabama more than once,” he said. “The vibe down there… SEC (has) just the best talent to me. Being around some great people, Coach Saban, Coach Gus Malzahn, just two great coaches. Being under their wing and if they take me in, I think that would be a great experience for me.”
Sorting through all those great experiences has obviously been on his mind lately. That’s probably why when asked if any schools had begun to separate themselves, he didn’t hesitate.
Said McMillon, “Coach Chris Singletary (at Michigan) talking with me and Coach Billy Napier (at Alabama), we talk all the time, maybe those two schools.”
But that doesn’t mean the other three schools don’t still have a shot.
“And Auburn,” he added. “Can’t forget about Tim Horton. There’s a lot (of schools standing out). Coach Harris down at Ole Miss and Coach Mark Lubick up in Vanderbilt, all of them, pretty much the top five.”
When the dust settles, the school that comes out on top will be the one that best lives up a few important criteria.
“The biggest factors (will be) my coach, the kind of communication that we have with each other,” McMillon explained. (A) home away from home. Try to get a chance to sit down with some players, talk about some of the things. Academics first and foremost.”
For much more on each of the schools still under consideration, press play below.