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May 17, 2012

McMillan to make his own name at Challenge

MORE: Five-Star Challenge | Underclassmen Challenge

Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

As one of just 20 players from the Class of 2014 selected to participate in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge the writing is on the wall that Raekwon McMillan is bound to be one of the highest ranked prospects when his class comes through its evaluation next season.

For McMillan, that may be too long to wait.

"I don't want to be the best linebacker in my class," he said. "I want to be the best linebacker in the country right now."

The accolades are important to the Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County inside linebacker and he feels that his chance to take on the best players in the nation from June 22-24 at Atlanta's Lakewood Stadium will be a chance to take the next step in the process.

A step, he says, that involves getting out of the shadow of the current No. 2 player in the nation, Alabama-bound Reuben Foster.

"I am tired of being in his shadow," McMillan said. "When people write about me they compare me to him. Just because I am younger doesn't mean I can't compete with him and it doesn't mean I can't be better already.

"He is a beast and an awesome player but I am not the guy in the background, I am not the next Rueben Foster. I want to make sure that is known."

McMillan said that he and Foster have participated in two camps together, once at a Georgia camp and once at a NIKE camp, and that while the two are not friends they were friendly.

"We talked," McMillan said. "He was a good person, in my opinion, but me being behind him in every article is getting a little old."

McMillan stands 6 feet 3 and weighs 235 pounds. Foster is a 6 feet 2 and 228 pound player. Each will be at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.

McMillian said that his goal at the event isn't just to measure up to Foster but cement his status among the elite players in the country.

"I want to make sure I am a lock for the Top 10 in my class," he said. "It is very important to me to be recognized because it has always been a dream of mine since I was little to put my hometown on the map and show younger kids that you can be the best no matter where you are from."

The rise to the top is picking up fast for McMillan and a recent trip to WalMart showed the prospect that with the exposure responsibility follows.

"I had a lady ask for an autograph and a picture with me," McMillan said. "She told me that I was a blessing to her and her family. It was a little weird for me, I am just a sophomore with 11 offers not a millionaire but it felt good that people know me and support me and have high hopes for me just like I do."

The hopes for him inside the community are held in even higher standing at home where McMillan said his mother keeps him grounded, daily.

"I get the same speech everyday from her," he said. "I have to keep my grades up, not be boastful, and not mess up.

"My mom is hard on grades, if I drop below a 3.0 I will have to quit playing football. She takes education very seriously and she makes sure I am humble."

It is the humility that was put on the backburner as McMillan talked about his future.

"I am an energetic guy," he said. "So I get excited when I do talk about football and my future and my goals. But I have to be mindful to carry myself the way my mom wants me to represent our family and there are days that I won't talk about football all day unless someone asks me.

"If they ask me? I tell them I want to be the best."

Mike Farrell's take

McMillan is a ball of fury on film and is so good at reading angles, shooting the gap, and running down plays to the outside that he will cover a lot of ground at the event. He also has a chip on his shoulder and is tired of being compared to Reuben Foster so by playing on the same team in the same linebacker group, he can try to separate himself from the nation's No. 2 player and show his own strengths. He is arguably a top 10 player in the class of 2014 and this could be his way of cementing five star status of his own down the line when we rank the 2014 class. I really like the speed and quickness he shows as such a huge linebacker for his age.



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