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McMillon back for Alabama football, looking to erase “bad taste” of 2019 season

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News
Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks with Alabama linebacker Joshua McMillon (40) after a penalty in second half action against The Citadel at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday November 17, 2018.

With a college football career that stretches back to 2015, Joshua McMillon might have felt like he had seen it all — until 2020 came along.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” McMillon said on Alabama football’s Tuesday Zoom availability. “The coronavirus. No spring. Pushing the fall back. But I think the steps we’ve taken, the Zoom meetings, coming in the spring and getting a few workouts, I think it’s been good. We’ve followed Coach (Nick) Saban’s plan. We are pursuing that. He’s doing what he’s been doing (as Alabama coach) for, what, 13, 14 years now.”

The issues around COVID-19 have only been a part of a whirlwind of issues surrounding McMillon’s senior season. After a preseason knee injury kept McMillon out of action in 2019, he had to decide whether to pursue an NCAA waiver that would grant him a sixth year due to medical hardship.  

“The injury was a non-contact injury back in August," McMillon said. "I went to make a tackle and my knee kind of buckled inside and slightly left, pretty much tore my ACL 90 percent. I didn't know that my MCL was (also) damaged, my meniscus was damaged and that was just about it.”

Aside from the primary issue of McMillon’s health, the injury took a heavy toll on the 2019 Alabama defense. Although McMillon has not been a starter, he was expected to be one going into the fall of 2019, providing stability and knowledge along with solid tackling. Instead, with both McMillon and Dylan Moses (also a knee injury) out, the Crimson Tide went from two experienced inside linebackers to none.

That was part of McMillon’s decision to return for 2020. 

"It was just a bad taste left in my mouth, from the past year. Going 11-2, I don't want to end my college career on a bad note like that. 

"I don't think anyone who came to the University of Alabama would want to end like this. Being here, being a leader, seeing other guys in the past and not living up to their standard, it didn't feel right leaving."

McMillon said he and Moses, who had the option of entering the NFL Draft prior to his junior year, discussed their futures but ultimately decided to return independent of one another. 

"We maybe sat down and had two conversations, but the approach we had with the team in the 2019 season, we're kind of just of the same head," McMillon said. "We really didn't like what the season was about, so we decided to come back. 

"I made my decision and he made his, but we decided to come back together and build something strong."

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt