Jalen McMillan wanted more than a splashy football wardrobe.
“There is more to college than cool uniforms,” McMillan said of a tweet trying to entice him to go to the University of Oregon because of the game-day attire.
It may work on some other impressionable kid, but not McMillan.
Oregon lost the highly regarded prospect the minute he took his official visit and was escorted to the equipment room.
The nation's eighth-best receiver according to 247Sports.com shared his thoughts on a visit that he felt failed to touch on life beyond athletics.
Luring him in with cool gear wasn't nearly enough to grab his attention, McMillan said. The move backfired.
The lack of effort put forth to develop a relationship or discuss academic endeavors lost McMillan even after he had an offer to try some of the gear on.
With 25 scholarship offers from around the country, McMillan could have traded in his San Joaquin Memorial High School threads for the classic looks of Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State or even Oregon’s array of green, yellow, camouflage, white and various shades of grey.
He chose to search beyond the uniforms, for a team that resembled more of a brotherhood.
McMillan had a childhood dream to play college football and it materialized when he made the decision to commit to the University of Washington.
With a drive to succeed, McMillan looks to differentiate himself as more than just a football player. In the chaos of filtering through offers from across the country, he had many voices in his ear.
While college football is a dream that McMillan can live out now, Washington attracted him with the variety of opportunities the campus has to offer, on and off the field.
Even amid a coaching change, the Huskies were a cut above for him.
“Washington established that relationship,” McMillan said of the recruiting process.
Nervous that Chris Petersen had stepped down as head coach, once McMillan heard that Jimmy Lake was taking over, he knew “it was going to be chilling."
His strong bond with his future teammates determined there was no chance he would waver in his decision to come to the UW, which was echoed by another future teammate’s decision.
Fellow Husky signee Mark Redman said that "Petersen was a deciding factor in creating the family culture and environment he looked for.”
Yet both McMillan and Redman appreciated that Lake “knows the recipe.”
Growing up, McMillan said he always was the “fast kid in middle school.” He qualified for the Junior Olympics track and field championships, running sprints and competing in the long jump in 2016. He went on to run in the state high school meet in the 100- and 200-meter dashes during the 2019 season in the preliminaries.
The 4-star wide receiver played in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. He flashed his speed by taking the first pass 75 yards for the game’s first score.
The soon-to-be-Husky, when asked about his motivation to play football, shared that his family has been a driving force in supporting and encouraging him. McMillan says he works to be a better person everyday.
To accelerate his game, the football star will take his talents back to the track this spring and improve his speed and technique, and further strengthen his competitor mentality.
McMillan’s ambitions beyond football might include a career in journalism. Humble in his delivery, he detailed his rigorous daily schedule.
He wakes up early to drive his sister to school, puts in a full day of classes, lifts weights, works on his technique and finishes up homework before he hits reset.
The 84th-rated player in the country by 247Sports says he is ready for the Washington football grind and the rainy weather that comes with it, and he says this with enthusiasm.
Bonds have already begun to form for McMillan with future Husky teammates Myles Murao, Roger Rosengarten and Sam Adams.
And a purple uniform is more than enough.