ORLANDO, Fla. - Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast inside linebacker Daniel McMillian didn't want it to end like this. A great season for the Buccaneers concluded with a nightmare scenario, as they were dismantled 40-0 by Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee in the Class 7A State Championship Game.
While McMillian will have an opportunity to play for another chance next season, he is disappointed for his senior teammates that will be moving onto the next level. He credits them with helping him to develop into an elite prospect during his time at First Coast.
"I learned a lot from my senior linebackers, Joseph (Jackson) and Reggie (Northrup)," McMillian said. "When I first came in there at linebacker, they took me under their wing. I started out playing defensive end and, they just took me under their wing. It is just hard right now.
"They taught me work ethic, Joe taught me coverage, Reggie taught me to bring the hits," Northrup added. "As a family, we worked hard to get here and I look forward to getting here next year and making them boys proud."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defender intends to get to work immediately on preparing for a return visit to Orlando this time next year.
"This game gives me a reason to work harder, harder than I have ever worked before," McMillian said. "I don't think I am going to have a Christmas break because I am going to be working out, starting to get ready for next season. I am going to play a little basketball, but I am going to still work hard, footwork drills, just everything."
Beyond preparing himself physically for next season and beyond, McMillian has also learned from his teammates to get his academics in order as soon as possible. He says his focus is moreso on that than his recruitment.
"I am looking forward to getting my SATs out of the way so I can get my grades up, so I can commit," McMillian said. "I am going to make my decision at the U.S. Army All-American game (in 2013)."
McMillian, who is unclear on his offer list but knows it exceeds more than two dozen, isn't in a rush to narrow things down and eliminate schools.
"I don't have a top three, top five or anything like that," McMillian said.
He will rely heavily upon his parents for guidance throughout the process.
"My mom and my dad, they have really helped me out a lot," said the fourth-best outside linebacker prospect for the class of 2013. "They take visits with me and they know me better than I know myself because they raised me. They have really helped me out a lot."
As for visits during the summer months, to attend and participate in college camps, he doesn't know of any specific plans but did share a few possible venues.
"That's up to (First Coast assistant) Coach C (Culver)," McMillian said. "We will most likely go to Auburn, South Carolina and probably Florida," he listed.
McMillian registered 12 tackles and two-and-a-half tackles for loss in his team's season finale.