Whether or not a pandemic rages through the country, Donovan McMillon of Peters Township consumes nutritious meals as part of his preparation for the football season.
Noting his mother, Shelley, always makes him a “big breakfast”, McMillon said he gulps down six pieces of French toast.
“She makes the best,” he said, adding “of course” maple syrup is an essential condiment.
Lunch one day is a croissant with bacon coupled with a dish of apple sauce and a peach.
Dinner could be fish, maybe cauliflower and broccoli and as many as six biscuits.
Then there are snacks.
“A bunch,” McMillon said with a laugh. “I eat a ton of calories.”
McMillon after all is a growing teen. The 6-2, 185-pound junior is also a 4-star safety. He already has 47 major Division I scholarship offers.
While the coronavirus crisis is putting a damper on the recruiting process and his ability to visit college campuses, the COVID-19 pandemic has not hindered his training.
Though he is unable to practice with teammates or visit the high school to use its extensive array of equipment and weights, McMillon has gotten creative with his workouts. He fills a duffle bag with books and does curls and pulls. He attaches 14.3-pound weights to an old plastic broom that he uses as a barbell.
“Trust me, I’m doing everything imaginable,” he said.
McMillon does 500 sit-ups a day in sets of 50 to 75. He sets up cones outside and works on his footwork. He even employs his siblings, Darius, 13, Dane, 10, and Davin, 7.
“We are having fun with it,” McMillon said of his attempts to cover his brothers during defensive drills. “There’s nothing like running around chasing them. We are making it so that it’s fun.
“I’m trying to stay as sharp as possible.”
McMillon attempts to make his workouts interesting by varying his training. He said he does something different every day, including running or sprinting. He spends approximately three hours outside and does push-ups throughout the day.
“There’s no specific time and it’s not just one thing,” he said. “It varies.”
Since the start of the week, the schedule has changed. School, although online, is back in the mix. McMillon is now balancing the books with SAT preparation.
Wrestling is in the rearview mirror. Normally, he would also be practicing for big tournaments. A dual meet in May and an event in Virginia Beach have been canceled.
“While wrestling helps with football, it’s mostly in the back of my head because you have to do it with a partner,” said McMillon, who finished 41-4 and was a WPIAL and PIAA state runner-up this season.
Hence the focus is on the fall and the gridiron.
McMillon is one of several upperclassmen returning to a team that won a conference championship and reached the WPIAL Class 5A finals in 2019. He led the Indians with 84 tackles, including seven for losses. He forced four fumbles, one of which he returned for a touchdown, picked off two passes and recovered two fumbles.
McMillon is concerned because the PIAA ruled that no school athletic teams in the state can conduct workouts or informal practices before July 1. So there are no scheduled team weightlifting sessions or 7-on-7 scrimmages on the horizon.
“Summer is so important,” McMillon said. “I’m hoping we can get working as soon as possible.”
McMillon also hopes there are developments in the world’s battle with the coronavirus. He wishes there would be a vaccine soon.
“I’m hoping for the best. I’m hoping that we all stay healthy and that no one gets this.”
The quicker things return to normal, the sooner McMillon can make a decision regarding his college choice.
McMillon has already paid visits to Pitt, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Purdue. He said Notre Dame, Oklahoma, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Air Force, Army and Harvard are among some of the other major schools extending offers. McMillon plans to major in media editing design or perhaps education with the hopes of some day going into coaching like his father, Darrin.
“I need to get on campus and talk to even more people but with everything shut down I can’t visit,” he said. “It’s a hard decision.”
It’s also difficult to open up the country and ease up social distancing restraints. That leaves one to wonder how football even at the high school level will be played in September. In the next three months, McMillon hopes officials will find some way.
“It definitely is an upsetting time because this is our last season,” he said. “Staying busy is getting us through this time. We’re all hoping for the best.”