Heavily recruited Peters Township safety Donovan McMillon commits to Florida

Saturday, July 18, 2020 | 7:32 PM

At this time last summer, Peters Township safety Donovan McMillon didn’t have a single Division I football offer.

That changed in a hurry.

As college coaches watched his junior film, McMillon’s stock rose as quickly as any recent WPIAL recruit, drawing offers from more than 50 schools. Now, it was time to choose. The rising senior committed Saturday night to Florida, picking the Gators over finalists Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.

McMillon was labeled a four-star recruit by 247Sports.com, which ranked him No. 145 nationally as the fifth-best safety in the country. Rivals had him as a three-star recruit.

“Having all of these offers come within such a quick period of time — these past six months — has just blown my mind,” McMillon said in his commitment video.

McMillon’s rise was fast but not entirely unexpected. One factor was his 6-foot-2, 190-pound size. He grew nearly five inches in a little more than a year, sprouting up from 5-9 as a sophomore.

“I remember talking to a Patriot League coach (last year), and I asked him if he wanted to see Donovan,” Peters Township coach T.J. Plack said. “He was like, ‘Coach, I don’t think we’ve got a shot at him.’ That really opened my eyes. ‘Wow, if they don’t have a shot at him, who’s going to start looking at him?’ That’s when Pitt, Virginia Tech and everybody started coming around.

“It happened really fast.”

On Oct. 19, McMillon announced his first Division I offer from Akron. He added Pitt a month later, after attending the Panthers’ game against North Carolina. Three more offers arrived in the next three weeks.

Along with his football skills, McMillon also is a decorated wrestler. He was the WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A runner-up at 182 pounds last winter.

“His wrestling transfers over to football,” Plack said. “His tackling ability is tenacious on the field. He’s a competitor.”

In March, he announced a Top 15 with Pitt, Penn State, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Duke, Iowa, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Purdue, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.

He soon had to rewrite that list.

A parade of major BCS offers came in April, despite high schools being closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Ole Miss, Oregon, Stanford and Wisconsin all offered McMillon scholarships in April.

He narrowed his list to 10 schools in May. Along with his five finalists, Penn State, Arizona State, Georgia, LSU and Michigan made the cut.

He announced his Top 5 on June 1, and then visited four of the five campuses.

“What went into making my final decision was finding a home (away) from home,” McMillon said.

The NCAA kept recruiting locked down for months under a dead period that prevents official visits and face-to-face interactions with coaches, but McMillon was able to see all but Oregon, Plack said. McMillon visited Gainesville, Fla., in mid-June.

His father, Darrin McMillon, is from Florida and co-defensive coordinator on Plack’s coaching staff.

Peters Township reached the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals last season with McMillon earning all-conference honors.

“He shot up and had a great junior year,” Plack said. “He’s long. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s a student of the game. There are a lot of things I could say about him for why these schools are interested in him.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.


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