Story Poster
Cal Football

Millner Battling it Out For Starting Nod

April 28, 2022
5,125

6-2/210 redshirt frosh QB Kai Millner has made big strides this spring in his head-to-head competition with Purdue portal transfer QB Jack Plummer, often splitting first-team reps.

Rated 4 stars by 247 out of Higley High School in Gilbert, Arizona, Millner completed 359-of-559 career passes (64.2%) for 4564 yards with 46 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a 108.9 quarterback rating, while adding 178 carries for 829 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground in his junior and covid-shortened senior season as a prep player.

Offered by Miami Michigan State, Arizona State, Colorado and more, Millner committed to the Bears the spring before his senior season after visiting.

“I felt like all-around Cal was the perfect fit for me,” said Millner of his decision to commit to Cal. “From the coaching to the academics, [academics] was a big part of it. But I knew coming in that I would have the opportunity to work with Coach Musgrave and he has a lot of knowledge about the game. I would be able to come in and learn a lot. Him having played the position as well gives him so much more insight into me as a quarterback and me being able to grow over time.”

Watching Musgrave in interviews might lead to the impression that the veteran OC is a pretty serious, maybe even slightly boring personality but the players will tell you about his dry sense of humor and enthusiasm for the game.

“He does,” said Millner of Musgrave’s dry humor. “He does, once you get to know him. You might think one way but in the meeting rooms and watching film, he'll crack jokes and have fun with it. We know to lock in when we’re learning but he’s definitely a fun and funny guy.”

With his lengthy pro experience and thick playbook, Millner was asked if the volume of information is tough to pick up at first or if he does a good job simplifying it to make it easier to learn.

“I think a little bit of both,” said Millner. “He does a really good job of making it learnable. It does take a good amount of studying and practice and getting turns at it and repping it. It’s a fairly big offense. But if you put in the time to understand it and learn it, there’s just a lot you can do with it.”

Now that Millner has a fall camp and season under his belt, the difference in his confidence and the speed he plays at is clear to any observer. 

Has the game slowed down for him?

“I think so, yes,” said Millner. “I think that was a big thing I wanted to see for myself and see in myself is, ‘Can I come out here and just play?’ Last fall, I felt like you’re just trying to get it down, you’re thinking a little too much, and I felt like this spring I was able to come out and really just play. Play fast, make my reads and do all those kinds of things.”

Many a young quarterback has described the difference in the speed of the game between high school and college and the ability of a young QB to slow things down and play with poise can often be a difficult adjustment to master.

“Yup. I think so. I mean everyone is just bigger, faster, stronger for sure,” said Millner. “Of course, it’s going to be an adjustment and it was. At times, people were flying by, a lot of things coming at you at once, a lot of information. But you’re still playing quarterback. This is something you’ve done your whole life so you kinda take that and translate that to this game. It’s still football at the end of the day, so I really tried to take that (mindset) into when I came in last fall and definitely still in this spring.”

Millner was asked about some of the ways he’s improved on the back end of his freshman season.

“I think just all around. being the leader,” said Millner. “Being that guy that’s telling people where they need to be. If somebody for whatever reason doesn’t know what they’re doing or where they’re supposed to be, being able to get them there and really just commanding the offense and playing fast like we talked about.

“I mean it's been amazing this spring. We have a good amount of young guys, as well, that are coming in, guys in my class. I can start naming guys. Obviously Jeremiah Hunter, J Mike (J.Michael Sturdivant), Mavin (Mavin Anderson), you know those guys are coming out and obviously, J Mike and Mavin are in my class so I’m a little bit biased to them. But we have that whole receiving corps. Everybody in that room is just really good and really good guys so I am just excited where we can go with this offense. I mean the sky’s the limit.”

The Arizona native was familiar with fellow former Arizona prep player Tommy Christakos, a redshirt frosh receiver and perhaps one of the less flashy names of the talented young Cal receiving corps but certainly reliable.

“His high school quarterback actually trained with the same guy I did so obviously I knew of him,” said Millner. “If you go watch his high school highlights, they’re incredible. I’d heard of Tommy and he’s a guy that just loves those one on one balls, 50/50 balls. He’s just a real reliable guy, really really strong hands. I mean he’s fun to throw to.”

“We throw those 50/50 balls, and Tommy, he gets those. But if you really sit and look at it, he’s making contested catches in other places. He’s a solid route runner, he does it all well. He’ll come out in our 10-personnel and line up in all different kinds of places and do a lot for us. He can do it all.”

Does Millner see soph receiver Jeremiah Hunter as a leader on the field and in the locker room?

“I do. I do,” said Millner. “I wasn’t here when he was originally injured and all that. But I can definitely see he’s a leader, he and Monroe (Young) both. A lot of guys on this team are leaders within their position groups so he’s a guy that can do a lot as well for us. He’s really good everywhere. He’s another guy that we can move around and do different things with and I feel like he is really progressed and gotten better and better through this spring and since I’ve been here.”

Millner also addressed some of the other young targets he’s working with.

“So Mavin (Anderson) is a smart guy,” said Millner. “Me and him are in the film room a lot and he’s somebody that knows the offense really well. We go at it in Kahoot. Just a real smart, quick guy, and on the field he’s just fast and fluid. He can move and he can just flat-out run.

“JMike (J.Michael Sturdivant) is another guy that can just flat-out run. He’s made a couple of great contested catches out here. Just is always open. Both of those guys make themselves available when you need them.”

Soph tight end Jermaine Terry is also rapidly becoming a favorite target, particularly after dropping 20 lbs after an injury and being in the best shape of his life.

“He’s definitely put the work in the offseason,” said Millner. “He’s another guy that’s just asking questions, always trying to learn more, and he’s coming out here playing with some confidence. He’s a big dude but he’s worked on his speed. He’s moving fast, and he doing a lot of things well. I love it out here when he’s looking to run guys over. He’s that big presence. He’s blocking guys inside, and just really excited for him as well.”

And for redshirt frosh TE Keleki Latu:

“He’s long… I mean long,” said Millner with a smile. “He catches the ball well, moves well, but can still come in and block when you need him to like a tight end does. He’s all around.”

Soph TE Elijah Mojorro has also come on strong in the last week with strong blocking and taking advantage of the opportunity when balls come his way.

“He’s came out and caught,” said Millner. “I threw a couple of balls to him today, actually. He’s moving well. That’s the great thing about these tight ends we have. They’re moving well, they’re receiving tight ends that can catch and then they get down and can bang inside and then are blocking guys so.”

And NIck Alftin: “He’s a bruiser for sure but can get out and run some routes for some catch some balls as well. He came in as a linebacker I think, and switched positions and has been really great for us. Great guy as well.”

After nearly a complete spring on the field, what is Millner expecting from this Bears team in 2022?

“I think we can accomplish a lot,” said Millner. “I think we’re really looking forward to this season so we can show our improvement and showing the talent that we have on this team. I think really the sky is the limit. We’re looking to go out there and win the Pac-12 championship and that’s the goal and what everyone is pushing for.”

Related:

Bears Get Their QB in Millner

Discussion from...

Millner Battling it Out For Starting Nod

3,902 Views | 10 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by BearGreg
oskidunker
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Do you really think he will be named starter? Plumber didnt come here to be a back up.
Go Bears!
UrsineMaximus
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Plummer has a slight edge but the competition will last through most if not all of fall camp. Whomever wins, it will be a luxury that Cal now has 2 QBs that can throw to every level on the field. Plummer has 2 years of eligibility left but may decide to go pro should he have a good year. It is essential that whomever is the backup that he gets meaningful snaps during games so that we don't have another 'zona melt down at that position. Millner didn't come here to be a backup either.
BearGreg
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Staff
IMO, Plummer will enter Fall Camp as the starter but the competition is not over
UrsineMaximus
How long do you want to ignore this user?
BearGreg said:

Plummer will enter Fall Camp as the presumptive starter but the competition is not over
Sentence needed a minor edit. Wilcox nor Musgrave have stated that, so didn't want your readers to think it had been "announced". Albeit you are entitled to journalistic freedom.
calumnus
How long do you want to ignore this user?
The talk about Musgrave's "thick" offense makes me a little depressed. Glad the QBs are happy and find him to be a good teacher.
Golden One
How long do you want to ignore this user?
calumnus said:

The talk about Musgrave's "thick" offense makes me a little depressed. Glad the QBs are happy and find him to be a good teacher.
Wish we could see some of that "thick" offense this season. What we've seen so far looks pretty plain vanilla to me.
GivemTheAxe
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Golden One said:

calumnus said:

The talk about Musgrave's "thick" offense makes me a little depressed. Glad the QBs are happy and find him to be a good teacher.
Wish we could see some of that "thick" offense this season. What we've seen so far looks pretty plain vanilla to me.

Same here. I have not been impressed with what I have seen the past two years. I am not saying get rid of Musgrave. I am saying I will wait and see for one more year.
calumnus
How long do you want to ignore this user?
GivemTheAxe said:

Golden One said:

calumnus said:

The talk about Musgrave's "thick" offense makes me a little depressed. Glad the QBs are happy and find him to be a good teacher.
Wish we could see some of that "thick" offense this season. What we've seen so far looks pretty plain vanilla to me.

Same here. I have not been impressed with what I have seen the past two years. I am not saying get rid of Musgrave. I am saying I will wait and see for one more year.


I haven't been impressed with the play design, player utilization or play calling. However, that can improve. My bigger worry is an OC dedicated to a "thick" encyclopedic playbook. It is like going to a restaurant with a huge menu, lots of choices but you know whatever you order will be mediocre. Better to have a focus and identity with excellence in execution. That clearly just isn't Musgrave.

This season will tell us a lot. It would be bad and unprecedented if we have to change OCs again in year 7 of Wilcox.
Rushinbear
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Golden One said:

calumnus said:

The talk about Musgrave's "thick" offense makes me a little depressed. Glad the QBs are happy and find him to be a good teacher.
Wish we could see some of that "thick" offense this season. What we've seen so far looks pretty plain vanilla to me.
Of necessity, it seems to me. The only question is does his O need a gun at qb? As others have said, we'll know by January...cause we've got at least one.
BearGreg
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Staff
UrsineMaximus said:

BearGreg said:

Plummer will enter Fall Camp as the presumptive starter but the competition is not over
Sentence needed a minor edit. Wilcox nor Musgrave have stated that, so didn't want your readers to think it had been "announced". Albeit you are entitled to journalistic freedom.
Good change
Refresh
Page 1 of 1
 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.