Former Liberty County High School linebacker Raekwon McMillan and his current team, the Ohio State Buckeyes, will play Monday night for the College Bowl Football Series National Title. The Buckeyes beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to advance to the finals and will face the Oregon Ducks. Both teams are 13-1.
McMillan was heavily recruited throughout his junior and senior years as a Panther linebacker after posting a career 349 solo tackles, 456 total tackles and 16.5 sacks for 94 yards of loss. He hurried the opposing quarterback 24 times, made three interceptions for 31 yards returned, deflected five passes, caused 10 fumbles and recovered two.
McMillan also provided an occasional spark for the Panther offense, rushing for 1,009 yards on 141 carries and scoring 17 touchdowns. He also tallied four career receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
He was the nation's top-rated inside linebacker prospect by ESPN and Rivals.com, and he was named the national 2013 High School Butkus Award winner, making him the top linebacker in the country. McMillan was ranked as a five-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals.com and 247Sports and was nationally rated as an overall top-20 performer by those three website networks.
By the midpoint of his senior year, McMillan had more than two dozen offers from the top football programs. Last December, he committed to Ohio State on national TV during a live broadcast held at the LCHS media center.
After his selection, McMillan was one of six Buckeyes who enrolled early at Ohio State. He was registered and in class by Jan. 8, 2014, to ensure he qualified to participate in the Buckeyes’ spring training.
As a true freshman, McMillan lived up to the hype and tallied 49 total tackles — including six tackles for loss — nabbed 2½ sacks and returned an interception for his first collegiate touchdown pass.
McMillan said the thrill of playing for a national title is sinking in.
“It feels great to be playing for the National Championship my freshman year almost unreal, it's truly a blessing,” he said adding that he felt quite at home in the Super Dome against Alabama. After all Nick Saban was among the top coaches hoping to acquire McMillan’s talent.
“When I took the field for the first time, I looked across the field and saw familiar faces because I was heavily recruited by Alabama too,” he said. “Seeing a team that I was almost apart of was crazy.”
The Buckeyes were the underdogs going into the Sugar Bowl but beat Alabama 42-35.
McMillan said he is ready to prove Ohio State has what it takes to be champions.
“The SEC has been on an awesome run for the last decade and have had many dominant teams,” McMillan said. “But that doesn't mean there isn't good football anywhere else in the nation.”
The game will be televised at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.