In a year where his senior high school fall football season was wiped out by a pandemic, 2020 threw Mount Si quarterback Clay Millen another curveball last weekend.
On Saturday, just days before he planned to sign his national letter of intent with Arizona, the school fired head coach Kevin Sumlin shortly after UA (0-5) lost 70-7 to rival Arizona State.
Millen, the programs’ highest-rated recruit in the class of 2021, had to do something he was more accustomed to doing on the field: think on his feet. After consulting with his family, he decided Tuesday afternoon to postpone his planned signing Wednesday and wait until the February National Signing Day to sign with Arizona. The news was first reported by 247 Sports.
Wednesday is the first day of the early signing period for football players. National Signing Day is Feb. 3.
He wants to give the school a chance to hire a new coach and not react too swiftly, one way or another.
“I’m still committed to Arizona for sure,” Millen said. “It’s kind of hard to sign a paper when the head coach is fired four days before. Over the past couple days, I’ve been playing everything by ear and just trying to get as month information as I can and process everything.”
As the COVID-adjusted Pac-12 season bore on this fall, seemingly with a hiccup at every turn, the thought crossed Millen’s mind that Sumlin’s days might be numbered. Still, he described seeing the news Saturday as a “surreal moment.”
“When you commit, you obviously don’t think something like that is going to happen,” Millen said. “But there’s obviously nothing I can do and it’s out of my control. So I’ve got to keep on focusing on what I can, control what I can.”
Even when he was coming up as an underclassmen, hype around Millen was palpable. But his snap count was limited because he was starting behind his brother, Cale Millen, a standout four-star quarterback who is now a backup at Oregon. After his brother graduated, Clay became the Wildcats’ starter and burst onto the scene as a junior.
He threw for 3,145 yards, 39 total touchdowns (five rushing) opposite one interception with a 71 percent completion rate and led Mount Si on an improbable run to the 4A state semifinals as an 11-seed. Recruiting site 247 Sports pegged Millen as the No. 13 pro-style quarterback in the country in the class of 2021.
He was an SBLive second team all-state selection across all classifications and SBLive’s eighth most impactful high school football player in the state in 2019. (His father, Hugh Millen, was a standout quarterback at Washington in the 1980s and played in the NFL from 1987-96.)
Before committing, Millen also had offers from Oregon, Colorado, Oregon State and Indiana. But Millen was wooed by a strong relationship with UA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and his version of the spread offense that looked eerily similar to that of Charlie Kinnune at Mount Si. Millen committed to Arizona in June.
But Mazzone is likely on his way out, along with the rest of Sumlin’s staff at Arizona, in the wake of the head coach’s firing after three years at the helm.
One thing hasn’t changed for Millen. He plans to finish out his senior year at Mount Si and hopes for the opportunity to play a postponed spring football season. Mount Si brings back much of its core from last year and enters a prospective season an immediate favorite.
On Wednesday, he’ll cheer on his Mount Si teammates and close friends Cole Norah and Andrew Edson, who are both set to sign letters of intent — Edson with Washington State and Norah with either Washington or Washington State, both of which he’s recently received preferred walk-on offers to attend.
“I’m super excited for both of them,” Millen said.
Meanwhile, Millen’s signing, much like his senior season, will have to wait.