WR Tetairoa McMillan chose Arizona Wildcats over Oregon out of trust

Oct 5, 2022, 6:30 PM

The highest-rated recruit in Arizona Wildcats history, freshman wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan, originally committed to their Week 6 opponent, the Oregon Ducks.

It wasn’t until nearly the last possible moment that McMillan signed his letter of intent to play for the Wildcats. By that point, Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal — who helped recruit McMillan — left the Ducks for the head coaching position at Miami and was replaced by Dan Lanning.

“I was like, ‘Whatever, I’m just going to go with my gut,'” McMillan said in a press conference Tuesday. “It was really more of a trust thing and a relationship thing.”

As a result, McMillan joined three fellow Servite High School (Calif.) graduates on the Wildcats roster — quarterback Noah Fifita, tight end Keyan Burnett and linebacker Jacob Manu.

“All those guys that I already knew and I trusted just made the process that much easier,” McMillan said. “I’m still happy with my decision.”

However, Oregon still made an effort to retain the No. 4 receiver in this past summer’s recruiting class. Lanning talked to McMillan for “about a week” after taking over, as time was running out on the receiver to make a decision.

“He was kind of bummed out when I called him saying that I wasn’t going there,” McMillan said. “He just said that he wished he had more time.”

On the field, it’s safe to say McMillan has acclimated to football in Tucson. Through five collegiate games, he has 16 receptions for 290 yards and three touchdowns. The 290 yards leads all true freshmen in college football.

He even added an 11-yard completion on a trick play in a Pac-12 Freshman of the Week-winning performance on Oct. 1 against Colorado.

“All week, [quarterback Jayden de Laura] had been telling me, ‘Throw me the ball right away. I’ll get you the yards,'” McMillan said. “He’s not originally supposed to be in the play. It was just supposed to be me throwing the ball to [running back Michael Wiley].

“As I scrambled, I just saw Jayden call for the ball. But then the linebacker opened his hips turned to Jayden, so I took the ball just to act like I was running. The linebacker stepped up, so I fed Jayden the ball.”

What’s next?

The Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 in conference) host No. 12 Oregon (4-1, 2-0 in conference) at 6 p.m. MST on Saturday at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.

For McMillan, he and de Laura look to build on their strong early season connection with another big performance. This time, against the school the wide receiver originally committed to.

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WR Tetairoa McMillan chose Arizona Wildcats over Oregon out of trust