As time is running out in 2014, the Michigan staff has begun to transition into a more active recruitment of the 2015 class. The Wolverines have cast out several offers over the past few days, with the most recent to current Notre Dame QB commit Blake Barnett earlier today. The addition of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has made a mark on Michigan's recruiting already, as Alabama had shown interest in Barnett before his November pledge to the Fighting Irish.
Over the weekend, Michigan made a move to solidify its defense for the future by extending an offer to highly-touted outside linebacker Joshua McMillon (Whitehaven/TN). After an explosive junior year that featured 88 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, three interceptions and one touchdown, McMillon has put himself in an advantageous position going forward.
"My junior year went pretty good," said McMillon. "I accomplished a lot of the goals I had set for myself before the season- everything except reaching 100 tackles. I wanted to grab two interceptions and I had three, so I did that and I had a touchdown too."
These statistics were mostly generated from the outside linebacker position, although Joshua displays the potential for added value as a pass rusher in certain situations as well. McMillon, who checks in as the No. 5 outside linebacker in the nation (No. 63 overall), makes good decisions in space and closes well on ball-carriers in the hole. He is very instinctive and has a good first step, qualities which can separate average prospects to great linebackers. Joshua is a strong tackler that doesn't often give up garbage yards and should blossom under a college strength and conditioning program. He sees himself at the SAM position at the next level, and you can decide for yourself here.
"Even when I'm playing defensive end, I can always drop back," said McMillon. "I'm really good at reading the quarterback and I can drop back into coverage because I have a good feel for everything that I will have to do for linebacker."
Thanks to such a prolific junior campaign, Joshua has heard from college coaches across the country, but his recruitment really started to gain traction nearly a year ago with an offer from Ole Miss. Since that time, McMillon has tacked on offers from the likes of the SEC's elite, and is receiving more interest as the Evaluation Period picks up.
"Alabama, Michigan, Auburn, Ohio State and Missouri is another good school I like right now," said McMillon. "Most of all I'm looking at the academic standpoint and I'm going to be a student-athlete first and foremost. I am looking for a school that graduates a lot of kids and one that will have a family."
With academics ranking high on the scale of factors that will influence his decision, Michigan checks out in that area. Joshua, who is looking to major in Engineering, is familiar with the academic advantages that the University of Michigan offers, and is hearing good things about the program from Whitehaven's head football coach, Rodney Saulsberry.
"Coach [Rodney] Saulsberry, my head coach, gave me the phone number for Mark Smith," said McMillon. "He wanted me to give him a call and talk to him. During the call, he told me about the stadium and the 110,000 people that it holds. He also talked about the academic program being one of the best in the country before he offered me a full ride scholarship to the University of Michigan. then he put me on the phone with Greg Mattison. He mentioned how he coached the Baltimore Ravens and he coached Ray Lewis up."
So far, things look good for Michigan, all aspects considered. It is important that Joshua is receptive to Michigan's advances, and it is also a good sign that his coach is advocating for the Wolverines to receive a serious look.
"Definitely, I really like what I see from Michigan," said McMillon. "Coach Saulsberry about getting up there for a Junior Day in February or March."
Landing a visit from McMillon in the spring would be a big step for his recruitment and it gives Michigan a chance to make a strong impression right at the end of his junior year. A positive visit would provide momentum for the Wolverines going into his senior year, which is when most prospects, McMillon included, would like to make their collegiate decision.