With just three weeks to go until Ohio State kicks off its 2014 football season, The Lantern is down to its final three players in its rundown of the top 10 most important Buckeye football players.
No. 3: Raekwon McMillan, freshman linebacker
The OSU football program and its “Silver Bullets” defense always boasts one key part: a stud linebacker.
Of course, always probably isn’t the best word to use lately, as that stud linebacker has been missing from the field for the Scarlet and Gray for a few years.
Don’t get me wrong though, Ryan Shazier, who was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, was a very, very good player at OSU. His 143 tackles last season led the team by almost 60 and his 22.5 tackles for loss were out-of-this-world impressive, but he still had his knocks.
A true stud OSU linebacker is even more than Shazier ever was. He will dominate every time he steps on the field, and he will do it for more than a season, which is really what Shazier did, and what McMillan has a great chance of besting.
It’s a list of names that includes the likes of Chris Spielman, Randy Gradishar, Andy Katzenmoyer, A.J. Hawk and James Laurinaitis. Fast forward four years, and we could very well be adding McMillan’s name to that list.
He’s come to OSU amidst a whirlwind of hype as a five-star recruit, and has impressed the coaching staff ever since he arrived in the spring. McMillan, along with running back Curtis Samuel, was part of the first pair of newcomers to lose the black stripe on their helmet.
According to an OSU press release, the black stripe comes off when the player “displays actions and efforts that prove they understand the Ohio State culture on the field of ‘4-to-6 seconds’ and go as hard as you can from ‘point A to point B.’”
Every time a coach or player is asked about him, it’s clear McMillan is here for a reason: to step on the football field and play, early and often.
He’s not a candidate to redshirt, I doubt that is a thought to even once cross coach Urban Meyer’s mind. McMillan is here to make an impact, and not two years down the line.
At the annual OSU media day Aug. 10, McMillan made it clear what he wanted to achieve coming in as a freshman.
“This spring my goal was to prove myself,” he said. “I was highly recruited but that doesn’t mean anything if you can’t go out and perform.”
So far, McMillan has gone out and performed.
With more experienced players like senior Curtis Grant, junior Joshua Perry and sophomore Darron Lee ahead of him, McMillan might not slot into the starting lineup from day one. Just remember that neither did Spielman or Hawk, yet they still had big impacts early in their career. All in all, you can expect McMillan to be a key cog on this Buckeye defense by seasons end.
OSU is scheduled to open its 2014 season Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is set for noon.