Former Buffalo Travon McMillian fighting for spot with Steelers
On April 27, former Colorado tailback Travon McMillian, who was a grad transfer to CU for the 2018 season and had spent the prior four years with Virginia Tech, announced that he'd gotten the chance to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's currently practicing with team during their OTAs in Latrobe, PA.
"I was in Boulder hiking and I got a call from [Steelers scout] Kelvin Fisher...he came to my Pro Day [at CU] so he already knew me [and] I already knew him...we have a really good relationship."
McMillian, who's 6-foot-0 and 205 pounds, redshirted at Virginia Tech in 2014 and from 2015-2017, racked up 2,153 rushing yards for the Hokies before deciding to transfer in late 2017.
In his lone year with Colorado, he was a big part of the offense, recording 1,009 yards and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average.
"[Playing at Colorado] was a great experience," he said. "Coach [Darian] Hagan did a great job with our running back group and I learned a lot from him. He helped me elevate my game, that's for sure."
Signed as an undrafted free agent by Pittsburgh, McMillian is facing admittedly stout competing for a roster spot to be one of the Steelers' backups. Currently, James Conner, the former Pitt standout who won ACC POY honors in 2014, is the main man and behind him is Jaylen Samuels, a fifth round pick in 2018 out of NC State.
On top of that, in this year's draft, Pittsburgh selected Benny Snell in the fourth round out of Kentucky. And finally, McMillian has been practicing with his old Virginia Tech teammate, Trey Edmunds; the two were on the Hokies together in 2014 and 2015, while Edmunds entered the NFL with the Saints in 2017, signing with the Steelers' practice squad last fall.
According to McMillian, the Steelers haven't been overtly specific in what role they envision for him, so he plans to make the most of his opportunity and go with the flow.
"I'm willing to do whatever they need me to do," he said. "As long as I have a role somewhere on the team, special teams or whatever, I'm willing to do whatever it takes...right now I'm moving really well, feeling pretty good and feel like I'm in shape."
McMillian said he was impressed with the welcoming attitude of his fellow Steelers tailbacks, namely Conner and Samuels.
"They're a great group of guys, all humble guys," he said. "As soon as I walked into the running back group, they knew who I was...those guys are really cool. We all get along and have a pretty tight knit group."
For McMillian, who played five years of college football at two institutions, transitioning to the NFL has been straightforward. The one big difference he noted was "accountability."
"It's a job now — you're on your own," he said. "It's a 'if you don't know the plays, you don't know the plays' kind of thing...I get to understand the playbook pretty well. I pick that stuff up well so it wasn't really a problem for me. College prepared me for that, going from system to system and having different OCs."
CUSportsNation will no doubt be keeping a tab on McMillian as Pittsburgh's summer practices intensify.