Former Liberty County High School linebacker Raekwon McMillan and his Ohio State Buckeyes have won the first college-football playoff championship game.
The fourth-ranked Buckeyes, despite again being underdogs, took down No. 2 Oregon, 42-20, Monday at AT&T Field in Arlington, Texas.
It is the Buckeyes’ eighth national title in program history and the program’s first since the 2002 season. And for McMillan, a true-freshman middle linebacker, it was a surreal experience. He tallied five total tackles and shared a tackle for loss Monday.
“It’s one of the best feelings in the world, on the biggest stage of them all,” he told the Courier via Facebook on Tuesday morning, adding he was thrilled to get ample playing time alongside senior linebacker and friend Curtis Grant. “I am blessed enough to showcase my talents and contribute to the win.”
Fresh off the victory, McMillan credited Ohio State defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Luke Fickell in preparing him for the season.
“Coach Fickell and I have built a bond that will only get stronger not only for the rest of my career, but for the rest of my life,” McMillan said. “He showed me tonight what trust truly means.”
McMillan played in all 14 games this year, netting 54 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception returned for a touchdown and one pass breakup.
With Grant set to graduate, McMillan could inherit the starting spot during his sophomore season. The former Panther said he already is prepping for next season.
“I want to become a more complete football player and a leader that my teammates can depend on a daily basis for next year,” McMillan said.