For weeks, Urban Meyer talked about how Ohio State needed to get highly-touted freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the rotation on defense more. The ideal time to do so came against an overmatched Kent State team.
“You just gotta be ready when your name is called,” McMillan said.
As one of the nation’s finest recruits and top linebackers, the youngster led Ohio State with seven tackles, two sacks and two tackles-for-loss in a blowout win against the Golden Flashes Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
“Raekwon’s a really good football player for such a young guy, he’s pretty mature. He does a lot of things right and he takes care of the little things. He’s a guy who pays attention to detail,” junior linebacker Joshua Perry said. “I think he played well … he’s one of those guys that can step in and he’s vocal and he’s a good leader.
It’s why it some have called for McMillan to see more playing time or even overtake senior linebacker Curtis Grant’s spot as the starting middle linebacker on a defense that underwent an overhaul in the offseason. The idea is McMillan, who’s supposed to be a future stud, and his potential outweigh Grant’s experience and shortcomings in pass coverage.
But McMillan said he draws confidence from Grant, who was once a former five-star recruit with the weight of the world upon his shoulders.
“My big brother Curtis Grant — I talked to him right before I went out there. He really has trust in me, and when he’s been helping me for the last eight months that I’ve been here — nine months, whatever it is,” he said.
“Just knowing that I’ve got support from my big brother and the guy who’s been starting here — just going in there and him telling me that he’s got confidence in me that I can do it really gave me confidence.”
Added McMillan: “It’s no tension between me and Curtis. Me and Curt have the utmost love for each other, ever since I got here. People were expecting us to be going at it and what not but it’s the utmost love for Curtis. Everything’s that he’s done for me is a truly blessing — I couldn’t ask for a better big brother here at Ohio State.”
Based on his outing Saturday, McMillan might see more playing time as the season goes on, but he maintains his approach won’t change.
“I just gotta be ready when my name is called. Can’t worry about not playing in the first two games. If I would’ve worried about not playing in the first two games and got down on myself and then my number’s called this third game, I wouldn’t have been ready,” he said. “So I just gotta keep grinding in practice.”