Four linebackers signed with Florida in 2013: Alex Anzalone, Jarrad Davis, Daniel McMillian, and Matt Rolin. Anzalone was the most ballyhooed one, the all-everything player from Pennsylvania with the crazy recruitment and the surprising athleticism. Davis was the mystery, a little-discussed player from Georgia who felt like the odd man out. Rolin was the project, a long-limbed beast of an outside linebacker who would have to recover from surgery to repair a torn ACL before he could play.
But McMillian? McMillian was the message boards' favorite guy.
He ran. He hit. He had cool hair, and a cooler nickname: Choppa Dan. He came from Florida — and message boards love to reward players from Florida for playing with and against Sunshine State studs week in and week out.
And he saw the field only very briefly in 2013.
McMillian played in nine games last season, primarily on special teams. He had two tackles on coverage, but was not the unit's freshman star — that was Keanu Neal. Here is how bad it got for McMillian: With four linebackers hurt against Georgia Southern, and his redshirt already well-burned, Florida played walk-on David Campbell ahead of him.
I don't mean to slight David Campbell here, but: He wasn't a four-star recruit coming out of high school. McMillian was.
And so it was back to the drawing board and the grindstone for McMillian this year. He got trimmer, dropping five pounds from 225 to 220, and replaced bad weight with good muscle. He improved his pass coverage, to the point that he had a one-handed pick in Florida's last open practice. And he learned his craft better than he did in 2013, too.
Now he's Florida's second-team linebacker at the Will. No OR, no and, no third-teamer listed: McMillian's just on the depth chart now, and ahead of Rolin, who is nowhere to be found.
Choppa Dan got chopped down to size as a freshman.
Now he's on the come up.