Out With the Old, in With the New: Is Cale Millen the Ducks’ Next Big QB?

Zeke Lerner-Wood Recruiting

West Coast football runs strong in the Millen family. Former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen played for the University of Washington, even leading the Huskies to a victory at the 1985 Orange Bowl before continuing his career professionally. Millen’s second son Clay Millen recently committed to Arizona. And Cale Millen, Hugh’s eldest son, signed with the Ducks in December of 2018. Clearly Cale has the best decision-making skills in the family! 

Cale Millen is a pro-style quarterback like his father. Millen attended Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, WA where he lettered for three years, graduating with 104 touchdown passes against only 19 interceptions. ESPN ranked Millen the No. 3 overall player in Washington.

Millen chose Oregon over other competitive programs such as Arizona State, Washington, and UCLA. He also decommitted from Northwestern before joining the Ducks. You can read our analyst’s initial impression of Millen here.

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Millen shortly after a game at Mt. Si High School

Despite his Dad’s alma mater, Millen has had his eye on Oregon for a few years. He cites his longtime love for the Ducks in an article written by Ryan Thorburn from Duck Sports

“I wasn’t really hot on the Huskies ever,” Millen said. “I played the NCAA Football games and I’d actually play as Oregon. And if my dad was coming down in the basement, I’d always turn the TV off real quick because I didn’t want him to see me playing Oregon.”

Weighing 211 pounds and standing at 6’3″, Millen has a great physical build for a quarterback. He already has a year under his belt working with collegiate-level nutritionists and workout regimens, too, so he’s physically prepared to take the field. Millen controls the field in his high school tapes, floating through pockets and past defenders, and quickly dishing off passes to zigging and zagging receivers. His footwork is superb as well, defined by quick, steady and firm steps to create space.

Millen’s decision making also stands out. The time he takes to look up, read the field, identify space, make a decision and create is ridiculously fast, a sure sign of understanding how the game flows really well — perhaps a result of growing up in a football family.

The largest weaknesses in Millen’s game is his range. Millen really thrives in short to medium distances, lasering passes straight into the hands of receivers with minimal time on the ball, but on the longer passes he sometimes struggles. With a little more physical development, he could become more comfortable with those further ranges and be a more complete player. 

One of the biggest factors concerning Millen’s 2019 playing time was Justin Herbert’s decision to return for one more season. This resulted in Tyler Shough securing the competitive second-string spot, leaving Millen’s status as a redshirt somewhat cemented for the season. In addition, Millen was unfortunately injured in late October with a shoulder injury. 

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Millen “throwing his O” with Mario Cristobal and Marcus Arroyo.

This year, the Ducks have a lot of options for the quarterback position. Shough is favored to man the helm, but Millen’s shot at the second-string spot isn’t clear cut. Newly enrolled 4-star recruits Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford are both bringing a lot of excitement to the table as well. It will surely be a tense competition on the field for playing time.

It’s a bit nerve-wracking to be jumping into a new season with four relatively untested quarterbacks, but it’s refreshing to know that the roster is stocked with variability and options, and hopefully the lack of a clear starter for the position creates healthy competition between the players. 

I think Millen would fit with the Duck’s play style really well. He reacts quickly, and is able to get those short to mid-ranged passes off tightly and accurately. He has a year with the program under his belt, which does give him a slight edge up on Ashford and Butterfield when it comes to playing time.

No matter what the roster looks like when the dust settles, Millen has a lot to offer for the team, and will continue to grow on and off the field. What will the future for Oregon’s quarterbacks look like?

Zeke Lerner-Wood
Alameda, CA
Top photo from Video

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