“I made a commitment to myself to learn this playbook because that’s what was holding me back,” Daniel McMillian said.
So he spent more time in the football facility than he even thought was possible. Coaches and staff members joked with him that he must be living in the facility late in the fall semester and early in the spring semester before practice started.
Early mornings and late nights were spent, often by himself, sitting in the film room of the football facility. When he would get out of class and have a short break, McMillian would make his way back to the film room.
“Every little chance I had, I was up there. I think they got tired of me,” McMillian said with a laugh. “I pretty much lived up there.
“It was a big emphasis. I took it to heart and put it on myself to learn that playbook so I could move faster. I knew I could do it, but I just had to learn that playbook.”
He did just that. Spring practice made it obvious that he was a different player. McMillian, playing at 6-1, 221 pounds, was able to play without thinking. The overthinking that kept him off the field for an injury-depleted linebacker position in the fall was gone, and he even spent some time with the first team.
It didn’t take longer for him to notice it. Once the Gators went to full pads on the third day of practice, he was a different player.
“The first day of pads when we started tackling, I was just out there playing,” McMillian said. “I knew what I knew, but I just had to show it.
BULLARD BEING VERSATILE: Jonathan Bullard expects to start most games at defensive end this season, but that could change throughout the year. The 270-pounder has the size and experience playing defensive end and defensive tackle.
“I’m going to do both,” Bullard said. “I’ll probably start at defensive end, but throughout the game, I’ll move inside. It’s wherever we need help. If we need help inside, I’ll be inside. If we need help outside, then I’ll be outside. It’s really more about how the coaches feel.”
The junior isn’t shy to admit he didn’t like the idea of defensive tackle when the coaches first brought it up. He begrudgingly took it on because he didn’t want to seem selfish on the outside, but inside, he hated every minute of it.
It changed in the offseason when he remembers having a conversation with himself.
“It’s what is best for the team, so it’s what I needed to do,” Bullard remembered saying. “I’ve embraced it now and got really good at it.”
The Florida coaches feel good about the starters on the defensive line, but they’ve mentioned multiple times that more depth needs to come on during fall camp. Bullard is keeping an eye on defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. He has the size and athleticism to make an impact but needs to mature.
“I’m hoping Caleb Brantley comes on,” Bullard said. “He has a lot of talent, but he just has to get that drive. When he gets it, I think he’ll be a special player for us.”