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Sean Milligan: Convincing mom turned out worthwhile

Justin Schuver | Thursday, November 13, 2003

Despite the fact her son is now a 290-pound lineman for the Irish, Sean Milligan’s mother was worried about him playing football when he was younger.”I’ve always wanted to play football,” Milligan said. “All my friends played football, but my mom wasn’t really for it so I had to coax her into it. She was like, ‘Your older brother didn’t play until he was in high school, and you’re not playing until you’re in high school.'”I kind of talked her letting me start a year before high school, though.”As a senior at Norcross High School in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross, Milligan shined as a standout offensive lineman. He was named a USA Today second-team All American offensive lineman and rated a top-100 prospect by both ESPN.com and The Sporting News.As a high school standout in the football-crazy state of Georgia, Milligan received a lot of looks from the University of Georgia and other SEC schools, as well as Georgia Tech in Atlanta. From the start, though, he knew where he wanted to go.”I kind of just went with my gut and my heart,” he said. “I thought Notre Dame had the best mix of academics and football and I wanted to get a nationally-recognized degree.”Milligan was redshirted as a freshman in 1999 under coach Bob Davie, and only played a few minutes of backup duty as a sophomore. As a junior, Milligan started his first game against Nebraska in 2001.The offensive guard continued to switch between a starter and a backup through 2001, but became a full-time starter in 2002, coach Tyrone Willingham’s first year. Milligan was forced to learn a different blocking scheme from the option-based scheme which Davie used. He also had to deal with the fiasco surrounding the hiring and five days later, resignation, of George O’Leary.”It was hard, because I came in to play under coach Davie and his staff, and when they left it was kind of like, ‘Well, where do I go from here,'” Milligan said. “And then the new coach came in and he was only here for five days, so we all were at home from Christmas break and we’re just kind of thinking – who’s going to be our coach.”It was kind of frustrating not knowing who your coach was going to be, because the school was keeping quiet about it.”During his first year in Willingham’s system, Milligan was a crucial part of an offensive line that sent four players to the NFL and helped the Irish to a 10-3 record. Milligan served an additional role this season as the only returning starter on the offensive line, and was asked to provide extra leadership to the young linemen.”What I tried to do was just to help them learn the game speed, the game tempo, and what’s expected of them,” he said. “The coaches expect leadership out of the seniors, with the young team we have, we’re expected to really set an example.”Milligan injured himself in the Michigan game this year, and hasn’t played since, putting a damper on his last year. Despite the injury, he still feels confident about his future after Notre Dame.”I’m just going to take next semester and try to get things in order. I’d like to go back home to Atlanta, but I’ll really go anywhere someone will hire me,” he said.”I’d like to play professional football, and if that comes, it comes, but I’m not banking my life on it.”