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Norman Bound
Top prospect Trey Millard has versatility to make potential impact in 2010

Trey Millard hasn’t been playing football long. While most youngsters beginning to learn to blocking and tackling basics as third- or fourth-graders in little league, the Columbia, Mo., native didn’t play in his first game until he was in the eighth grade. Up until that point, he was honing his skills on the soccer field.

However, when enough players didn’t sign up to form a soccer team, his stepfather, Robbie Millard, thought he should try football. It didn’t take long for Millard to realize it was time to trade in the soccer gear for shoulder pads, helmet and cleats.

In his first game, he had double-digit tackles against the best team in the Columbia Youth Football League. Then during his ninth-grade season at Rock Bridge, he racked up 101 tackles in only his second year of competitive football.

Despite having only five years of playing experience under his belt, Millard has grown into a 6-foot-3, 250-pound specimen, who is the 15th-ranked tight end in the nation.

Maybe it was because of his inexperience that when was asked a few games into his senior year to switch positions, Millard didn’t balk. While some big-time recruits might have second thoughts about any move that could potentially hurt their stock, he more interested in doing what was best for his Rock Bridge team.

“We had some injuries and had some young guys at running back that weren’t quite ready for that role yet,” explained Millard. “I was playing tight end for first few games and I was just the next option. And it worked out pretty well.”

In the prior three seasons at Rock Bridge, Milliard collected a total of 10 carries. In his first year as tailback, Millard ramped that up 196 carries for 1,243 yards and 16 touchdowns, helping the Bruins to a 5-5 record.

Even though his switch to the backfield didn’t make the team a title contender, it showed Millard’s commitment to his teammates who have had to battle through consecutive losing seasons in which they went a combined 2-18.

“My senior season was pretty good,” Millard said. “It was really great. My fellow seniors, that I have been with, have gone through a lot. We had two pretty awful seasons back to back. We really just fought through it together. We didn’t have a great record, but we had one of the hardest schedules in the state.”

While Millard had a successful transition to running back, he knows that his future will be back on the line of scrimmage. Rivals.com has him ranked as a four-star athlete and the fifth-best player in the state. It’s a position he could not have imagined he would be in when he initially started playing.

“Not at all,” Millard said. “Coach (A.J.) Ofodile kind of told me that as a freshman. He thought it would be possible. I kind of believed him, but I wasn’t really focused on it. (I) just focused on playing and everything fell into place.”

Millard is now being recruited by programs around the country.

“He’s naturally-gifted, tall, fast, intelligent, strong,” Ofodile told the Columbia Missourian. “He’s got every tool. I think he’s an obvious D-I athlete.”
Even though the likes of Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina, Syracuse, Stanford, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri have knocked on his door, Oklahoma evidently held the key.
“I just really like the atmosphere around here,” said Millard, when asked about his verbal commitment to the Sooners. “I wasn’t a huge fan of any college growing up, but Oklahoma was kind of my favorite school. When I first started to play, I kind of liked Oklahoma. When I came down here, it solidified it.
“I like the coaches. I like what they are doing with the program. I like a lot about it. Winning tradition, I guess, would one of the top reasons. There are a lot of good schools and OU is definitely one of the top ones in the nation.”
Even though he committed to OU back in August, Millard didn’t take his official visit to Oklahoma until recently when he was on hand for the Sooners’ regular-season finale against Oklahoma State, which turned out to be an impressive 27-0 victory. He said he is looking forward to games like Bedlam and the Red River Rivalry the Sooners seem to play every year.
“OU has a tradition of winning,” said Millard. “They are always going to win. It’s one of those few schools that is in it pretty much every year.”
Growing up in Columbia, most of Millard’s family and friends felt he was a shoe-in to stay home and play for the Tigers. And they have not been shy about letting him know how surprised they are he chose rival Oklahoma, which is the only school he has visited.

“It’s my decision. It’s my choice. They don’t have to live with it. They should be able to see that it’s really up to me,” offered Millard, who admits the 2009 season has not been one of the Sooners’ best showings.

It was supposed to be another championship-type season, but at 7-5, OU just qualified for a bowl game. Still, at no point did Millard ever second-guess his commitment.

“I don’t think any team that is ranked right now would be doing that well if they had the kind of injuries that OU has had this season. Even without that, I still like the team, like the coaches. It never crossed my mind to change,” confirmed Millard.

One of the walking injured Millard referred to was tight end Jermaine Gresham. The All-American went down before the season ever started and the Sooners were never able to replace him.

That could change next season. Millard is one of two high-ranking tight end prospects who have committed to the Sooners.

“Jermaine is a great player,” Millard said. “He is a great guy and an All-American. I would like to be able to come in and fill that role. We will just see how it goes this year. I really liked Coach (Kevin) Wilson. I like having the offensive coordinator be my position coach.”

Millard has a lot of the same traits that made Gresham such an irreplaceable player for Oklahoma. He runs a 4.5 40 and he said his biggest strength is versatility.

“I am one of those guys that can line up in quite a few different places and be able to block, run catch — kind of do a lot of things and create a lot of mismatches,” said Millard.

Yet, Millard could even find himself on the other side of the ball in the future, at inside linebacker or defensive end.

“Millard is a thick inside linebacker prospect with good mobility and downhill burst between the tackles,” offered one recruiting analyst. “We like his athleticism as a future tight end or H-back, as well. Has a large upper-body and overall frame.”

Despite the numerous accolades for his offensive exploits, Millard said his mentality fits a more defensive nature.

Millard doesn’t know what awaits him next year. A lot will be expected of his freshman class as they will be counted on to help restore the Sooners to contender status.

And just as he did during his prep career, Millard is willing to do whatever is needed for his team.
“I don’t have any predictions or anything like that,” Millard said. “I am just going to try and play the best I can.”

(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Dec. 2009 issue of Sooner Spectator. For more information or to subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877)