McMillan To Injured Mates: Get Well Soon

Clint McMillan loves all the attention he's getting and he loves the extra reps he gets every day in practice, but the junior from Oviedo has one wish for his injured teammates on the defensive line --- Get Well Soon!

The 6-1, 290-pounder with the quick burst is one of the strongest players on the Florida roster. He is being counted on heavily as a backup this fall when tackles Marcus Thomas (hernia surgery), Ray McDonald (ACL surgery) and Steven Harris (personal issues) return to the team. While they're away, he has had a standout spring in which he's proved he belongs on the field.

As much as he loves playing, however, he wants his teammates back on the field.

"We're short handed this spring because we have guys banged up and injured and some stuff going on," said McMillan after Monday's practice. "Getting the extra reps is great because it's good to get the extra experience and get my body ready to handle all the banging I'll go through in the fall but we need our guys back.

"This is a tough position and you have to have everybody healthy and ready to go. We've got some great players and we need all of them if we're going to be as good as we know we can be this fall."

Coach Urban Meyer has commented several times in the last two weeks that McMillan has carried over the momentum of superlative winter workouts into spring drills. McMillan was already one of the strongest players on the team, but he took his workouts to an entirely new level in the winter.

"I did have a good winter and you can thank the strength coaches for that," said McMillan. "They really did a great job of getting us ready and keeping us motivated."

He did 32 reps of 225 pounds on the bench and got his leg press up to 1500 pounds. All his strength numbers were up. Where he continued to make progress was in the area of speed. He ran in the low 4.7s, high 4.6s last year and his goal for this year was to get his 40 time down as close to 4.6 as possible.

He hasn't been timed in the 40 this spring but in the agility drills and the 10-yard sprints that defensive line coach Greg Mattison considers a good measure for what a tackle has to do, McMillan is one of the team's best.

"Out of the tackles I had either the fastest or second fastest 10," he said. "I'm not quite as fast as some of the defensive end guys but I'm working to get there. Speed is coming along really good though. We haven't run the 40s yet but I can tell that I've improved my lateral speed. My lateral speed is really good right now.

"I'm not worried about speed though. As long as I can keep training, the speed will come. I just have to stay focused on getting better. All I want to do is get better so I can help out the team."

Once Thomas, McDonald and Harris are back, Florida's defensive line will be deep and strong at every position. The Gators will enter the fall with one of the most highly regarded defensive lines in the country with experienced tackles in the middle that can push the pocket forward and speedy defensive ends that can force teams to hold their backs in and run two-man patterns.

"Our goal is to get the big push up the middle and collapse the pocket from the inside," said Mattison. "When our tackles do that, then the guys coming off the edge can make a lot of big plays. That makes our secondary play that much better because you can't expect those guys to cover, cover, cover if there's no pressure."

McMillan knows the expectations will be high for the defensive line but says that means they just have to work harder.

"We have a lot of guys coming back and people expect a lot of good things from us but we have to keep our focus and keep working hard," he said. "If we don't work hard and do all the things we're supposed to do, then nothing will matter because we won't live up to the hype. We're have to keep the focus."

He says the line is motivated to succeed because of the coaching and mentoring they get from Mattison.

"All you have to do is look at a guy like (Jeremy) Mincey," said McMillan. "His whole career got turned around. He went from nowhere to a guy that's going to get drafted and maybe pretty high.

"We've seen what Coach Mattison has done with the lines at other places he's been, too. We think he's a great coach and whatever he tells us to do, we'll do it because there is no game that we're not the best prepared. He tells us as long as we execute we'll be in the right spot every time to make the play. Every game we have a chance to do well because he's got us prepared to play well."

As for personal goals, McMillan's are simple.

"I just want to help the team," he said. "Anything they ask me to do I'm ready to do it."


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