Long-awaited CU Buffs debut a memorable one for Travon McMillian

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado running back Travon McMillian rushed for 103 yards on 10 carries against Colorado State on Friday.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado running back Travon McMillian split carries with Kyle Evans during the Buffs' win over Rams.



Once Travon McMillian saw the writing on the wall for his career at Virginia Tech, it was time to do some homework.

With only one year of college eligibility remaining, McMillian understood his new football home needed to fulfill a few requirements. At the top of that list was finding a team in clear need of a running back, yet in order to make the sort of immediate splash McMillian expected as a graduate transfer, his list was more expansive than that. Experience up front and at quarterback were considerations, as was the opportunity to still play in a league as competitive as what Virginia Tech typically experienced in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Once McMillian connected all those dots, Colorado got its new running back.

After months of anticipation McMillian finally made his CU debut last week to rave reviews, rushing for 103 yards on 10 carries while leaving a couple Colorado State defenders flailing at air in the wake of some nifty jukes. The performance was a long time coming for McMillian, who will get another chance to showcase those moves when the Buffaloes renew a dormant rivalry with Nebraska Saturday afternoon (1:30 p.m. MT, ABC).

“I saw that Phillip Lindsay had a really awesome season and I saw the guys up front, I felt like they were dominating up front,” McMillian said. “I love the way Colorado was moving fast and things like that. You had Steven Montez here. I saw that there was a lot of talent on offense, and I wanted to join something, somewhere, where there was a lot talent.

“When I was also here on my official (visit) I felt really comfortable with the coaches. They made me feel comfortable here, and Colorado is a beautiful place.”

McMillian experienced diminishing returns during his tenure at Virginia Tech after rushing for 1,043 yards on 200 attempts as a redshirt freshman in 2015. Those numbers dropped to 671 rushing yards on 145 attempts a year later and 439 yards on 104 attempts last year, which accelerated his departure from Virginia Tech.

With Lindsay taking his skills to the Denver Broncos, McMillian believed he could fill the void. He certainly looked the part against the Rams.

“It felt really good to be out there and with my brothers,” McMillian said. “Just to experience the (CSU) rivalry. We’re just going to keep getting better each and every day. We’re done with just one game. We’re just trying to go to work every day.”

McMillian gained 15 yards on his first carry with the Buffs and barely slowed from there. While fellow senior Kyle Evans received a slightly larger workload with 12 carries against CSU, it was McMillian who spurred a rushing attack that gained 258 yards while averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. On one of McMillian’s long first-quarter runs he used a jab-step at full speed to elude a CSU defender, and he broke out the move once again during a 49-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.

“I was out to the safety and he was kind of stopping his feet a little bit, so I gave him a little jab-step to make him hesitate,” McMillian said. “I’m planning on doing that a lot more throughout the season. But those guys up front, it’s what they do that makes what I do worth it. As long as those guys continue to do their jobs, I’ll be able to execute at my role.”

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