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This is the first in a series of stories about players in Orange County that fans will want to keep an eye on this football season.
Servite’s sports history is rich.
Like, Jeff Bezos rich.
Steve Beurlein. Steve Buechele. Patrick Cantlay. Matt Slater. Chris Pontius. Mike Witt.
Some day “Tetairoa McMillan” might be in that paragraph.
McMillan goes into his senior year at Servite as one of the elite receivers in high school football. Rivals.com gives him four stars (out of five possible) and has him ranked No. 4 in the country at receiver. Rivals also has McMillan as the No. 4 prospect among all players in California and No. 44 for all players in the nation.
St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro won’t dispute that after watching McMillan, widely known as “TMac,” make eight catches for 168 yards and a touchdown against Bosco this past spring.
“What separates him from everyone else is how he makes the extraordinary look ordinary,” Negro said. “So many times you think you have him covered and somehow he wins possession of the ball making an outstanding catch.”
What helps separate McMillan (6-4, 185 pounds) as an athlete is his ability to excel in volleyball. His jumping ability gets him so high that his elbow is above the net, and his hitting power sends the ball across it at violent velocity.
“He is definitely a special athlete,” said Servite volleyball coach Matt Marrujo. “He might be the best who’s ever been here.”
Servite football coach Troy Thomas, who was a defensive back in high school and college and knows about matching up against a great receiver, said McMillan’s physical skills might overshadow another aspect of his excellence.
“He’s smart and he knows how to position his body to make the difficult catch,” Thomas said. “He uses a lot of different things to do what he does.”
McMillan was born in Hawaii. His family moved to Southern California where he started playing tackle football at age 12. McMillan was a cornerback and linebacker on his Pop Warner team. His participation in volleyball, inspired by his mother who played the sport in college, would come a couple of years later.
He would quickly establish himself in both sports.
McMillan was All-Trinity League second team in volleyball as a freshman in 2019. He was the only sophomore on the 2019 All-Orange County football first team. As a junior in the 2020-21 school year McMillan was on the CalHiSports.com All-State first team and was honored as the website’s California Wide Receiver of the Year . He was All CIF-Southern Section Division 2 in volleyball, having led the Friars to the CIF-SS Division 2 championship match.
McMillan was the Register’s Orange County boys athlete of the year for the 2020-21 school year.
With scholarship offers from many of the top college football programs in the country, this summer he narrowed his list of potential schools to Arizona, Oregon and USC. He plans to make his college decision before the high school season begins.
“I’m definitely making my decision soon,” said McMillan, who is not looking forward to having to turn down offers he received from people he likes. “The main thing about recruiting is creating relationships, and that’s why it’s going to be hard to tell people ‘no.’ “
It’s worth noting that two of his teammates, quarterback Noah Fifita and tight end Keyan Burnett, have committed to Arizona.
McMillan was a starter on the Servite basketball team during his sophomore year, but he chose to play volleyball instead of basketball as a junior when those sports were forced to have their seasons at the same time because of the compacted schedule in 2020-21.
Thomas is certain that McMillan improved as a football player by being a multisport athlete.
“There’s so much you can learn from other sports that will carry over to football,” Thomas said. “Whether it’s track or wrestling, or in his case basketball and volleyball. Playing other sports will make you more well-rounded, and that’s what Tetairoa did while growing up.”
Thomas said it is important that a team’s best senior players be team leaders. Thomas said that McMillan, who is a quiet and soft-spoken person, began to take on that responsibility during the summer.
“I’m not really a vocal guy,” McMillan said. “But this is my last year, so I have to do what I have to do to get our team prepared to reach its goals.”
This past football season was delayed and shortened because of COVID-19, which limited Servite to six games during the spring. Servite lost twice, in Trinity League games against St. John Bosco 38-28 and Mater Dei 24-17.
As he was in the Bosco game, McMillan was outstanding against Mater Dei. While being covered most of the game by Mater Dei’s nationally-ranked cornerback Domani Jackson, McMillan had six receptions for 107 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown reception. McMillan also drew six pass interference penalties in the Mater Dei game.
He is excited about the opportunity to play Bosco and Mater Dei again this season. Those two opponents are in Servite’s final games of the regular season.
“It’s always a blessing playing arguably the top two teams in the country every year,” McMillan said. “Unfortunately we came up short. But I feel very fortunate just to play against so many good DI players in those games.”
McMillan in those games this season just might make Servite’s sports history wealthier.
Read more about Football Preview: Servite’s Tetairoa McMillan can make the ‘extraordinary look ordinary,’ even in the Trinity League This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service
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