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SPRING FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

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I have seen a lot of them.

Not as many as some, but more than most.

At this point, I'd put my number at 17.  That's 17 spring football games since the early 90s when I first was assigned to be on UC's radio team.  Even since my departure from that particular job, I've been a regular viewer of spring practice and spring games.

That's why I feel I have as much knowledge as anyone when I nominate UC redshirt junior Danny Milligan as a charter member of UC's "Spring Football Hall of Fame".

milligan.jpeg



After making the scene in his early years in the Bearcat Bowl, the 5-9, 174 pound former St. Xavier standout has done it again.

In Bearcat Bowl V, not only did Milligan crush the game's longest field goal (52 yards in a controlled setting) he also caught a pair of touchdown passes.  Once again, the ex-Bomber seems to know how to "land the plane" in spring competition.

Now, it's just a matter of finding the opportunity to play in the regular season at Nippert (a stadium where he's had many success stories).

If you don't pull for this "Wes Welker"-like local to succeed at UC, you're really not human.

"Well Danny just needs to keep fighting," Jones said of Milligan's chances to see real playing time. "We talk every day and his thing is just coming to work with a mentality every day. If he does that, he can help this football team."

Even since his Brian Kelly days, Milligan has been a "travel team" guy because of his versatility. Because he can punt, kick and receive, Milligan's always a nice "ace in the hole".

His problem has been, the ace has pretty much been kept in the deck by both Kelly and coach Jones.

"I'm biding my time," Milligan said. "Just one or two good years and you can do something special. I still luckily have two more years."

Despite his lack of regular game playing time, Milligan seems to thrive in spring games. He's made noticeable plays in each that he's played, which usually results in those familiar with his high school career to wonder why he's not been in the mix.

"I've done it in high school and for three years that I've played here, I've been able to do it here," Milligan said. "If I can get that trust from coach Jones, I'd be happy to do it."

Based on a quick glance of the receiving, Milligan was productive as any.  Factor in the kicking and Elder's Tony Miliano having an off day and it's tough to figure how Milligan wouldn't be in the plans.

Did he enjoy the 52-yard boot or the touchdowns more?

"Either way, that puts up points," Milligan said. "It depends on the situation. 52 is a long for me since I've been here at UC.  It's always nice to catch a couple touchdowns from Jordan Luallen and Munchie (Legaux)."

The bottom line for Milligan is that he's local.  His family is able to cheer for him here as well as those that followed his stellar high school career.

"It's great to play in front of the family," Milligan said. "It's all about family. If I can put a smile on those parents' faces, it makes me happy."

Also with a happy face after Bearcat Bowl V was Georgia Tech transfer quarterback Jordan Luallen. After Zach Collaros, it's a toss-up as to which quarterback got the most reps, sophomore Munchie Legaux or Luallen.

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(Courtesy espn.com)

From a production standpoint, both did good things.  From an impression standpoint, it would be tough to ignore how Luallen caused a decent Bearcat defense a few fits with his scrambling and scripted runs.

"I though Jordan took some major, major steps," coach Jones said. "I thought he managed the offense. With the ball in his hands, he can make things happen. He needs to continue to progress in the throw game. I'm very encouraged by his performance."

Luallen was also encouraged.  Like most transfers, it had been a long time since he was able to play in front of any fans.

"I'm doing alright, it's an acclamation process," Luallen said. "I understand the offense a lot better. I've spent a lot of time in the film room to prepare myself."

Luallen is a bigger quarterback than either Collaros or Chazz Anderson and it's tough to avoid the comparison to a previous Butch Jones quarterback.

"That was one of the things I was attracted by," Luallen said. "I'd obviously seen the production that (Dan) LeFevour put up at Central Michigan. I was really interested because that's a big part of my game.  The way they've implemented that with me, running those quarterback powers, I really like that."

With coach Jones declaring the back-up quarterback job open, it's safe to say Luallen made a favorable impression on the coaching staff with his elusiveness.

"I'd like to believe so," Luallen said. "There's still a long way to go and I have a lot to improve on. I did some good things."

What stood out with Luallen, Legaux and Milligan on offense, and Derek Wolfe, Walter Stewart and juco transfer Malcolm Murray on defense, was their ability to rise up and make plays in "showtime".

"You find out who can handle distractions when the lights go on and there are people in the stands," Jones said. "I thought it was a productive night overall."

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