UW Roster Review, No. 2-99: McMillan Is No Background Husky

The redshirt freshman receiver got a taste of the pandemic season and seeks a prominent role.
Publish date:

Jalen McMillan spent a lot of time during University of Washington spring football practice alone in his thoughts.

That's because he kept getting a step on the Huskies' vaunted secondary members and hauling in passes from the various quarterbacks in training who were specifically looking for him. 

Just a redshirt freshman, McMillan had to share some of the limelight when arriving on campus last year with fellow classmates Rome Odunze and Sawyer Racanelli after each brought a glowing reputation with them to the college game.

Yet where the 6-foot-1, 190-pound speedster from Fresno, California, can set himself apart going forward from the others, plus upperclassman Terrell Bynum, rising sophomore Taj Davis and portal transfer newcomers Ja'Lynn Polk from Texas Tech and Giles Jackson from Michigan, is in one of two ways. Or both.

McMillan can become Dylan Morris' No. 1 target or he can make himself the team's top deep threat. Same as the photo above, he needs to be the big dog.

"Jalen has made a bunch of plays and he needs to continue to make plays," Husky coach Jimmy Lake said as spring practice pulled to a close. 

Going down the roster in numerical order, this is another of our post-spring assessments of all of the Husky talent at hand, gleaned from a month of observations, as a way to keep everyone engaged during the offseason.

McMillan, who wears No. 11, all along has been right on schedule as a Husky wide receiver during these disjointed pandemic times.

Last season, he had to wait his turn behind veterans Puka Nacua and Ty Jones, who eventually transferred out to BYU and Fresno State for various reasons, with his looming presence hard for either of his former teammates to ignore.

Looking at it another way, McMillan for Jones was a straight-up man-for-man trade with the city of Fresno.

McMillan, along with Odunze, stepped up and started in his fourth collegiate game when the virus depleted the receiver ranks. 

Now it's time for McMillan to have an entire season to show what he can do, whether it's making an in-traffic grab or running the fly sweep. It won't be automatic. He's still got to fend off challenges from players such as Davis, Polk and Racanelli.

Yet in spring practice, McMillan showed off a little more of his personality by catching a pass, racing to the end zone and launching himself onto some mattress-like pads, and striking a touchdown pose. 

Think Heisman, only prone. 

"You can see the confidence, you can see the swagger, you can see the toughness," Lake said of his receivers. "That's what we want those guys to be like."

McMillan has his hands on all of those traits. He's not a background guy either, though matching that oversized hound in the mural wouldn't be a bad thing.

McMillan's 2021 Outlook: Projected wide-receiver starter

UW Service Time: Played in 4 games, started 1

Stats: 1 reception for 16 yards, 2 rushes for 14 yards

Individual Honors: None

Pro prospects: 2024 NFL mid-round draftee

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: HuskyMaven/Sports Illustrated