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Boomer Bio: Trey Millard
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Sooner fullback has unusual sports background
They say Oklahoma freshman Trey Millard has exceptional athletic ability, and it starts with his feet. So give credit where credit is due: soccer.
Starting at age 6, Millard played competitive youth soccer for seven years. Skills learned during those formative years of athletic competition often linger, even when switching from soccer fullback to football fullback.
“Soccer,” said Millard, “was definitely my main sport. It definitely helps me, footwork-wise.
It’s a way different experience. It helps you get your feet down without having to look at ’em or while you’re focused on doing something else. I think that definitely helps having quick feet and things like that.”
Simply put, Millard is a combination of J.D. Runnels (athletic) and Brody Eldridge (powerful). He’s only a freshman now, and a starter. So what happens when he gets Runnels’ experience and Eldridge’s technique and football proficiency?
“I think he has a chance to be better than all of them,” said Bob Stoops, “just because of his overall athletic ability.”
Millard spent his soccer career playing on a team with older players. When they started high school in Columbia, Mo., Millard and a few other eighth-grade stragglers were left without a team.
So he turned to football.
“My stepdad is the one who introduced it to me,” said Millard. “He suggested football because it was the same season, so I played football and just fell in love with it.”
The league in which Millard played, though, prohibited him from playing in the backfield.
“They had a weight limit, so I couldn’t carry the ball,” said Millard.
So he played left tackle and linebacker in the eighth grade.
“Just kind of running around hitting people,” he said.
Soon enough, he found his way to the backfield.
As a freshman, he was a full-time fullback. His sophomore and junior year, he spent time at fullback, H-back, tight end, slot receiver and offensive line. Then, as a senior at Rock Bridge High School, Millard became a star.
He was the featured running back, carrying the load on offense with 1,413 yards rushing (an average of 6.5 yards per carry) and 21 pass receptions for 248 yards. He scored 21 touchdowns. That, Millard said, was a whole lot of fun.
But, he added, so is springing DeMarco Murray on a 20-yard burst off tackle or a 1-yard smash up the middle.
“I think they’re both equally just really thrilling,” Millard said. “Good plays are all awesome. Yeah, I love having the ball in my hands, but I love blocking, too.”
Millard, at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, already has surpassed his fullback predecessors by starting as a freshman.
“I love the guy. He’s mature beyond his years,” said Stoops. “He’s very physical beyond his years, (has) size beyond his years. He’s just a load back there. And he’s going to keep getting better.
You haven’t seen all of it.”
Millard was so good in two-a-days that his teammates, taking Stoops’ compliment one step further, actually nicknamed him “The Load.”
“He is a load,” said safety Jonathan Nelson. “If I was at corner and had to come down and take the fullback during two-a-days, I could feel all 250 or whatever he is.”
“You have to have a special mindset that you’re going to go full speed, not slow down, and bust heads with someone,” said quarterback Landry Jones. “He has no fear. He goes in there and blows people up. It’s exciting to see that.”
In the spring, the Sooners didn’t have a classic fullback, so it was disconcerting for offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson to have so much offense predicated on a position that didn’t exist. Wilson wasn’t sure what the offense would look like. Then Millard reported for camp.
“He’s a really good athlete,” said Wilson. “He’s a bigger guy who can also run and do things. We can move him around a little bit. We can get in big personnel and then maybe get into one of our ace sets with him in the backfield with him being able the run the ball. He can catch the ball, too.
We can run him out on routes.”
And that is what truly sets Millard apart from other Sooner fullbacks under Stoops. At the midway point of the season, Millard had 11 rushing attempts for 36 yards and a touchdown, plus seven pass receptions for 51 yards and another touchdown.
Against Texas, the Sooners ran Millard on a fullback dive five times. Doesn’t sound like much, but Stoops said it was the first time an I-formation fullback had gotten a handoff since Seth Littrell in 1999.
“Trey Millard does not look like a freshman,” said Wilson. “He looks like a guy that’s been here a couple years.”
He’s playing like it, too.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Oct. 29 edition of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877.)