Dawson high on QB Millard
Published: Monday, February 14, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 14, 2011 23:02
Every West Virginia football player has their own story to tell.
Paul Millard's might just take longer to tell than most.
A month and a half ago, the quarterback didn't have West Virginia in his thoughts. In reality, the Flower Mound, Texas, native wasn't even planning on leaving his home state to continue his collegiate career.
Despite statistically being one of the best quarterbacks in the country, Millard only received solid interest from the likes of the University of Texas at El Paso, North Texas and Stephen F. Austin, while Miami (Fla.) showed little interest.
None had officially offered him scholarships.
His dream was to play at a big university with a well-respected football program. Seemingly, that was becoming less and less likely as time went on.
But Millard can credit Oliver Luck, Dana Holgorsen and, most importantly, Shannon Dawson for helping that dream come to pass.
While the offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin, Millard was one of the first players Dawson recruited for the 2011 class for the Lumberjacks, just thinking, "there's no way I'm getting this kid."
"I thought he was a BCS player," Dawson said.
The problem was, SFA wasn't a BCS school.
When Dawson was hired at West Virginia by Holgorsen on Jan. 5, that connection opened up; Millard now had an offer from a BCS program, and Dawson could secure a commitment from a quarterback he thought was a steal.
As soon as Dawson could legally contact Millard as a WVU representative, he did.
"I told him, ‘look, if you want an opportunity here, you have one,'" Dawson said.
Millard verbally committed to West Virginia on Jan. 11 as a walk-on player, although he was later granted a scholarship.
After his commitment was secure, Dawson and Holgorsen wanted to take Millard's recruitment to another level, and asked the 6-foot-2 signal caller to enroll early.
Millard had to pass one more class in order to do so, but a spring camp would do wonders for the quarterback. With starter Geno Smith being out with an injury, Millard would likely receive the bulk of the first-team repetitions.
"I told him that there's not another BCS school in the nation where he could come in and take reps with the No. 1 unit," Dawson said. "That's why he worked so hard to get his school work done. This opportunity is golden."
Millard passed his final exam on Jan. 13, and left for Morgantown the same day. He arrived on Jan. 15, and his enrollment into the school was officially announced on Jan. 18.
Quite a month for a kid who had less than a handful of offers.
Dawson said Millard enrolling early prevented other offers that would have eventually come, at the very least, thanks to Millard's statistics.
"Who's not going to offer the nation's leading passer?" Dawson said.
Millard threw for 4,491 yards, just 96 shy of beating the Texas high school record for most passing yards in a single season, which is held by former Missouri standout and possible first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft, Blaine Gabbert.
That mark was the third-most in the nation, according to Rivals.com. He threw 47 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
He's a near perfect fit for the new offense Holgorsen will incorporate.
"I'm excited for two reasons," Dawson said. "No. 1, we needed him. No. 2, he's a heck of a quarterback, and a heck of a kid, too."
Dawson, after all, was the first to notice.