SAN ANTONIO, TX. – Throughout the season it was a common belief inside the building that Jalen McMillan would return to Washington for a fourth year in 2023.
As is the case with many things, you never know for sure until it’s set in stone.
When it comes to college athletes declaring for the NFL Draft it’s similar to when a high school recruit makes a verbal commitment. Until that National Letter of Intent comes in there is no sure guarantee.
The day after UW announced its latest signing class on December 21 – which featured the addition of four-star recruit Rashid Williams and Michigan State freshman Germie Bernard, along with three-star receiver Keith Reynolds – McMillan went into Kalen DeBoer’s office.
“The morning before practice one day he came in and just said, ‘hey, I’m coming back. Just letting everybody know for sure’, UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said.
McMillan, who finished the regular season third in the Pac-12 in receiving yards (1,040), second in receptions (71) and tied for first with eight touchdown receptions, took a similar approach later that morning to inform Husky Nation on social media.
DeBoer and wide receivers’ coach JaMarcus Shephard were in DeBoer’s office when McMillan delivered the news. Shephard came down the hall to Grubb’s office to let him know that the star receiver was in his office.
“I grabbed a piece of paper and I flipped it over and it said, ‘I’m back’ and then it said signature and date, underlined. I made him sign it,” Grubb said with a grin. “I still got it on my desk. It was awesome. It was fun.”
Before McMillan made his decision official he was asked whether or not he has accomplished what he came to Washington to achieve.
“No. Not yet,” he said. “There’s still a lot more left on the table. I feel like there’s unfinished business. I feel like we got disrespected this year. I feel like I got disrespected this year. I don’t think I’m honorable mention. You know, I think my talent and my play speaks for itself.
“I would love to comeback and earn that respect.”
A Fresno Track Meet in San Antonio
Much of the lead up to the 2022 Alamo Bowl has centered around the elite receivers set to play in the game.
For Texas, true sophomore Xavier Worthy is the main attraction.
A native of Fresno, California, where McMillan is also from, the 6-1, 164-pound receiver is as electric as any receiver in the open field. Longhorns head coach and ex-Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian said during Wednesday’s final press conference that Worthy and former UW receiver John Ross are similar in that nature.
“The elusiveness, the ability to get to top-end speed like Ross had and Xavier has, there’s definitely similarities there for sure,” Sarkisian said.
McMillan graduated a year prior to Worthy, but the two knew each other well.
In fact, according to the UT receiver, they already know who is faster.
“We raced in a 100 (yard dash) my sophomore year in high school,” Worthy said. “I won.”
The two won’t go against each other in Thursday’s bowl game, barring unforeseen injuries to either secondary. Both are expected to be targeted heavily with Texas and UW entering the matchup ranked No. 89 (239 yards) and No. 92 (241.7 yards) respectively in pass defense.