"Throughout the year and throughout last year, it was all about building trust from my teammates. As the (middle) linebacker, you can't be out there as one of the guys. You have to be out there as a leader on defense, and I think throughout the year they had more trust in me. Everything I said on the field they really took it and went with it."
There is no doubt that Ohio State sophomore linebacker is a great talent, as evidenced as being a finalist for the Butkus Award, but next year bigger things are expected from him. With Joshua Perry graduating, and Darron Lee possibly declaring for the NFL Draft, a youthful Ohio State defense will look to McMillan for leadership. To prepare for his upcoming increase in responsibilities, McMillan has been trying to learn as much as possible from linebacker Curtis Grant last year, and Perry this year.
A good test for McMillan will come on New Year's Day when Ohio State takes on a Notre Dame team that has a number of playmakers, as well as a talented offensive line. The Buckeye defense should be in good hands when the leadership transfers over to McMillan. The sophomore from Georgia was credited with 114 tackles this year, but he isn't happy with his outstanding production, as he feels there are a number of tackles out there he should've made. While there are a number of Buckeye defense starts who will have a decision to make on whether to head to the NFL this year, it's likely McMillan will have the same decision to make at this time next year.
"If you don't play well in these games, you're a phony. The whole culture of your program is a lie. I'm not saying we're guaranteed to win a game, but if you come out and play hard, that's a good indicator."
Once it was learned Ohio State wouldn't be playing in the College Football Playoff, there have been questions as to what reasons they have to get up for the Fiesta Bowl, where they'll play Notre Dame. While it shouldn't be too hard to get amped to take on the Fighting Irish in one of the New Year's Six bowls, it's not a given that Ohio State will come out ready to go. After winning the College Football Playoff last year, the goal of this season was to get back to the playoff. The Michigan State loss erased any hopes of making it back, which could leave players less than motivated. Also, for a number of players, the decision on whether or not to declare for the NFL Draft could be weighing on them more than getting ready to play Notre Dame.
There are positive signs on Ohio State getting up for this contest against Notre Dame. The Michigan game showed this Ohio State team was still capable of playing with fire despite missing out on their goals this year. The Fiesta Bowl could be one last showcase for those who are considering heading to the NFL Draft, and a big performance could help to sway their decision. It's likely that Urban Meyer won't let his players come into this game less than ready to give 100 percent, as well. Meyer is 49-4 during his coaching career at Ohio State, and he has to be itching to square off with a program he highly respects. Don't bet Meyer's team to come into the Fiesta Bowl unprepared, and not ready to give a great effort.
"I'm just getting adjusted to college basketball. That was my first game, so you can't expect me to come out and look like Magic Johnson. I'm not that good, but I'm workign every day and so are my teammates. I'm getting into the groove."
Ohio State's basketball team got Mickey Mitchell back at just the right time last week. After missing the first 10 games of the season due to not being declared eligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center, Mitchell learned Friday that he would finally be allowed to play. Just a day earlier Austin Grandstaff announced his intention to transfer, which left Ohio State's rotation lacking. With how the Buckeyes had started the season, getting Mitchell's talents were definitely a boost heading into Big Ten play.
Mitchell didn't play in the upset win over Kentucky on Saturday, but he did get his first taste of college basketball in Tuesday night's 64-44 win over Mercer. The addition of Mitchell will help some of the upperclassmen who have had to shoulder a lot of the load early in the year. Marc Loving, Jae'Sean Tate, and Keita Bates-Diop have all had to play most of the minutes as Ohio State has worked to find their identity. The addition of Mitchell and his energy have already paid dividends, as he grabbed three rebounds and notched a steal against Mercer. Mitchell may not stuff the stat sheet every game, but his addition was definitely an early Christmas gift for Thad Matta and the rest of the Buckeyes.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Not eating at home tonight? A number of Columbus restaurants are open Christmas Eve.
- This bank robber in Oregon probably didn't think things through.
- Need some music over the holidays? Here are the playlists that'll be playing for the Obamas and Bidens.
- Steve Harvey's Miss Universe mistake got the Curb Your Enthusiasm treatment.