PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — When Raekwon McMillan visited Clemson in the summer of 2013, he didn’t know which school he wanted to attend in the future. But by the time McMillan left campus, he knew where he was going to go — and it wasn’t Clemson.
The five-star linebacker from Georgia and priority Clemson target visited Clemson for a camp that June. That’s where he met Jalyn Holmes, a four-star defensive end from Virginia.
The two hit it off immediately, and pretty soon after, they were discussing schools. They talked about Clemson and Ohio State, weighing the options, and ultimately came to the conclusion that Ohio State was the best choice for them.
“Prior to that, I had never met Jalyn before,” McMillan said on Wednesday at the Camelback Inn Resort and Spa in Paradise Valley, Ariz. “He brought his whole team, Lake Taylor, up to Clemson, and when they got there, I kind of was feeling out some of the guys that I would be cool with if I chose Clemson.
“Jalyn was one of the guys that stuck out to me. While we were up there, we were in the indoor facility at the top, just talking and getting to know each other. And the more we talked and got to know each other, we started talking about schools. We kind of figured that Ohio State was the best choice for both of us.”
McMillan and Holmes considered the two schools’ recruiting classes, how much opportunity there would be for early playing time at the schools and other factors. At the end of the conversation, they felt confident Ohio State was the best fit.
Holmes committed to Ohio State a week later. McMillan followed with a pledge to the school not too long after.
“We felt like they could recruit some of the best athletes in the nation, and we were going to have the best class in the nation,” McMillan said. “Not saying that Clemson didn’t, we just felt like Ohio State was the better choice for both of us. Better situation, as well, because we both played as freshman and had great years.”
The decision to sign with Ohio State turned out well for McMillan and Holmes, who started the majority of their games as true freshmen for the eventual national champion Buckeyes. Both have succeeded at a high level and lived up to their high ratings as recruits.
McMillan and Holmes have become best friends, too. They were roommates during their first year at Ohio State, currently live in the same neighborhood, and McMillan wants Holmes to be a best man at his wedding in the future.
“When we got to Ohio State, that was one of my roommates, and we live right down the street from each other now,” McMillan said. “I think he’ll be one of my best men at my wedding. He’s one of the closest guys I’ve got here at Ohio State. I know that anything I need, he’s got my back no matter what.”
Now, things have come full circle for McMillan and Holmes, who will play against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
McMillan said he still hears from Clemson every now and then, such as when members of the staff wish him a happy birthday or Merry Christmas, and he’s excited to compete against the coaches he got to know well.
“Being able to play against those guys, and just looking across the field and seeing some of the guys I got recruited with and some of the coaches is an awesome feeling because I get to experience that with them,” McMillan said. “And after the game we’ll shake hands and go our separate ways, but it will be cool to see them across the field.”