Archive for Friday, November 19, 2004

McMillan to start 36th consecutive game

Senior defensive end has been reliable contributor since sophomore season

November 19, 2004


Saturday will be the end of the line for Mr. Reliable.

Defensive end David McMillan will be starting his 36th straight and final Kansas University football game when the Jayhawks play at Missouri.

McMillan has started every game since his sophomore season, never once failing to answer the bell because of illness or injury or even missing the bus.

"It's a blessing," McMillan said. "I've never had a serious injury. I've had to use an ice pack now and then, but that's it."

The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder from Killeen, Texas, and junior-college transfer Jermial Ashley, the other defensive end, share the team lead in sacks with four apiece. The two also are leading the defensive linemen in tackles for losses with nine each.

McMillan has been credited with three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup. The latter occurred in the Toledo game and led to an interception by linebacker Nick Reid.

Missing from his dossier this season are an interception and a fumble recovery, surprising in that he had both last season. In the 2003 opener against Northwestern, McMillan returned a stolen pass 31 yards for a touchdown. And in the Wyoming game, he picked up a fumble and carried it 57 yards into the end zone.

Still, McMillan has one game remaining, and who knows what will happen in the season finale?

After five years in the KU football program -- he was red-shirted in 2000 -- McMillan concedes the prospect of playing in his final collegiate game is a strange sensation.



"It does feel kind of weird," he said. "You remember all the people before you who were seniors, and you never think it's going to be you some day, so it's kind of a shock."

At one time, McMillan was one of seven players from Killeen, Texas, on the Jayhawks' roster. All seven had been recruited by Darrell Wyatt, a Killeen native who was on coach Terry Allen's staff.

By the time his junior year arrived, however, McMillan was the only player from Killeen remaining.

"When I first got here I had come because of them," McMillan said. "We all wanted to do well and represent our hometown. I didn't think I'd be the last one, by far."

A couple of the players from the Killeen pipeline -- notably tailback David Winbush -- made significant contributions as Jayhawks. Others showed promise -- Reggie Duncan, Carl Ivey, Johnny McCoy were starters, for example -- but left the KU program before their eligibility expired.

Whether Saturday's game will be McMillan's last as a football player remains to be seen. He's built more like an NFL linebacker than a defensive end, yet never has played anywhere at Kansas but on the line.

Still, McMillan plans to give pro football a shot.

"Who knows?" he said. "I'll start training as soon as the season is over. Hopefully, they'll see that I'm an athlete, and they'll be impressed."

First, though, will be his last game in a KU uniform.

"Obviously, we had bigger expectations this season," he said, "but this is what happened, so we have to go out and play our best. I want to go out and have my best game and come home with a win."

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