Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Despite a heavy heart, former Flower Mound QB pursues his college dream
Sometimes when Paul Millard is rushing around the West Virginia campus, still occasionally needing to look at a map, he thinks about what he could be doing instead. The former Flower Mound quarterback could be finishing high school, taking a light schedule of classes, spending time with friends and soaking up a few more weeks of the teenage glory years.
It could be a lot easier.
“But I don’t regret my decision at all,” Millard said last week from Morgantown, W.Va.
And for good reason. The 6-1, 215-pound quarterback enrolled at West Virginia as an invited walk-on in January, and only three months later has earned a scholarship and is battling to be the starter.
For a guy who had few scholarship offers despite throwing for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns per game as a senior, it’s an I-told-you-so story of redemption. But unfortunately, it’s not a wholly feel-good story.
The day Millard arrived at West Virginia, he was given a scholarship. That was an incredible high. But an unimaginable low came just two weeks later when Millard’s father died. Bob Millard, who was only 50, died of a pulmonary embolism.
Paul Millard came home for his father’s funeral, and the 18-year-old considered not going back to West Virginia until the fall. It was painful to consider being more than 1,000 miles from home as he grieved.
“But my dad was very excited about me coming up here,” Millard said. “I know he would want me to be up here.”
Bob Millard made the official recruiting visit to West Virginia with Paul, the second-youngest of his and Colleen Millard’s four sons. Paul was still undecided as he finished his visit, but his dad loved West Virginia.
“He was so sold on it,” Colleen Millard said. “That’s the only place that he bought gear before they left.”
Bob Millard believed it was a perfect fit with Dana Holgersen, a former offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State, as West Virginia’s new offensive coordinator. Holgersen will take over as head coach in 2012, and his fast-paced spread offense is similar to the one in which Millard flourished at Flower Mound.
In Saturday’s first scrimmage of spring practice, which was played in the rain, Millard completed nine of 17 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Millard will get another chance to impress in West Virginia’s Gold-Blue game April 29.
Geno Smith, a junior who is the only quarterback ahead of Millard on the depth chart, is already impressed.
“He’s going to be a special quarterback,” Smith told The Charleston Gazette. “He understands football at a very young age. He can make every throw out there already.”
Millard gains respect with each throw, gains confidence with each practice and gains inspiration when he sees the photo of his dad in his room.
“I definitely still have my days when I’m just missing the crap out of the guy,” Millard said. “I just try to go about every day the way he would want me to. I know my dad is in a better place right now and looking down at me.”