Utah State football: McMillian steps into giant shoes
College football • Sophomore still inspired by former Aggie linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Published: August 14, 2012 03:01PM
Updated: August 14, 2012 11:41PM
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Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Tavaris McMillian with Utah State University attends Media Day at Romney Stadium in Logan on Thursday, August 2, 2012, in preperation for football season.

Logan • Tavaris McMillian spent Saturday night in front of a television, and on his phone, his Twitter page a few clicks away.

Each time Bobby Wagner made a tackle or a good play in his NFL preseason debut for the Seattle Seahawks, McMillian took to social media. By the end of the night, his timeline was full.

“He’s like a big brother to me,” McMillian said. “He’s at the place where I want to go.”

The sophomore linebacker from South Florida formed a strong bond with Wagner last season. Now, he has the challenge of replacing one of the best defenders the Aggies have ever had.

He was an outside linebacker in 2011, a redshirt freshman with little pressure. Now, McMillian is moving inside. The defense will count on him to make plays. Coach Gary Andersen is emphasizing leadership with McMillian, and with a young linebacking corps, he is needed to provide it.

“He’s going to be big for us this season,” Andersen said. “He’s one of the main guys now. He has to replace a lot of the production we lost with Bobby and Kyle Gallagher. We’re all confident in him. He’s gotten faster, stronger and he’s put on weight. He’s had a good offseason, and he looks like he’s ready to go.”

McMillian has impressed with his speed so far this season, as well as his work ethic. In high school, he played on the inside, so he’s familiar with the position.

He’s set the bar high for himself. McMillian dreams of leading the Western Athletic Conference in tackles, like Wagner did. He feels that he should be one of the best defenders in the league before he’s done as an Aggie.

“The key for me is being a better player every day,” McMillian said. “I want to make the defense better whenever I’m playing. We have a lot of young guys on defense, but we’re talented and we’ve learned in the system. We just have to go and do it now.”

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tonyaggieville