Dan Milsten: The Mystery Man

An unlikely candidate has taken over this fall as the first-team defensive end, and his name is Dan Milsten. The second-year player out of Rogers High has opened some eyes with his play this fall and moved ahead of a few big names on the depth chart.

Look across the Husky defensive front this fall, and on the first-team you will see the familiar faces.

There's down-lineman Manase (muh-NOSS-ay) Hopoi, a third-year partial-qualifier who exploded on the scene in his first season he was eligible to play, recording seven sacks in 2002.

There's senior Terry Johnson, one of the main leaders on the defensive side of the ball. He had five sacks in 11 starts as a junior.

There's Jerome Stevens, another senior with 10 career starts to his credit. He had two sacks in 2002.

It isn't until you peer at the defensive end that the familiar faces stop.

Need a hint?

It isn't Graham Lasee, the third-year player from Sehome High who ran with the first-team for much of the spring.

It's not Mike Mapu, the highly-heralded junior college defensive end from Mesa CC.

And it's not even Donny Mateaki, who entered the Husky program last season out of Iolani High in Honolulu, Hawaii as one of the nation's top prospects at the position.

Give up?

The fourth defensive lineman, the mystery defensive end who is one of the best stories of the fall thus far, is Rogers High product Dan Milsten. Only a redshirt freshman, Milsten has added 30 pounds of muscle since fall camp ended last year and moved to the top of the depth chart.

"It surprises me," Milsten said of working as the first-team defensive end after a recent practice, "but I've got to step up to the challenge.

"I'm starting to feel comfortable at the position and understand my duties better."

Milsten credits much of his development to defensive line coach Randy Hart, but he says it was his decision to stay in Seattle over the summer months that has made the biggest difference in his abilities on the field.

The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder from Puyallup joined many of his Husky teammates for a strenuous, for-the-disciplined-only, off-season workout regimen.

He woke up at 6:15 each morning. At a time when most people are still in bed or just waking up, Milsten would then work out for two hours. After daily tutoring sessions and summer school, he would then return at 5 p.m. for an hour of running excercises.

"Right after the season ended last year, that's when we started," Milsten said. "We didn't just start at the beginning of fall camp, we started working hard right away.

"If I didn't do that I wouldn't be as strong as I am right now, and I wouldn't feel ready to go. I'm glad I stayed and worked out all summer."

With the season-opener a week-and-a-half away, it appears all the early mornings and long workouts have paid off for this 20-year-old.

When Husky head coach Keith Gilbertson was asked recently about the progress of his defensive line, his response included Milsten.

"Milsten is the newest guy, and he sometimes looks like the newest guy," Gilbertson said after Saturday's scrimmage. "You've just got to give him a chance. He's a redshirt freshman."

Milsten knows that all he can do is put forth his best effort during each practice, and hope that he will remain atop the depth chart at defensive end. That decision, he knows, will ultimately be made by the coaching staff.

"I've got to stick to what I've got to do," he said. "I've just got to work hard, be tough and know my duties on the field."

If he does that, Milsten just might become one of those familiar faces on the defensive front for years to come.

Dawgman.com Top Stories