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The decision to follow Jay Norvell from Nevada to Colorado State was easy for Clay Millen: "There was no way I was gonna want to go anywhere else"

Justin Michael Avatar
March 29, 2022

FORT COLLINS — Clay Millen has been able to hit the ground running since transferring over from the University of Nevada. 

The redshirt freshman quarterback was expected to take over for Carson Strong following his impressive collegiate career. And assuming all goes to plan between now and August, it will be Millen that leads the Rams on offense against Michigan at the ‘Big House’ on Sept. 3.

So far, the young gunslinger has looked pretty good. It’s obviously too soon to take away much — we’re only four practices in and the team hasn’t even worn full pads yet. That said, though, his confidence on the field is extremely evident, as is his arm strength and ability to throw with touch. Watching him rip the ball downfield or drop a touch pass in the corner of the end zone is definitely a welcomed site for sore eyes post-Addazio. 

On Tuesday, Millen spoke with the media for the first time and talked a little bit about how the transition has gone for him and some of the other former UNR players. 

According to Millen, the process has actually been pretty smooth. From a football standpoint, having so many guys that had already played in the system has basically allowed the Rams to have extra coaches on the field. And from a chemistry standpoint, things have been solid as well. While one might have assumed things could be a little awkward at first, the Wolf Pack did beat the Rams 52-10 in the 2021 season finale after all, there doesn’t seem to be any bad blood at all. The past is the past. 

“As soon as we came in, this team welcomed me with open arms,” Millen said. “They’ve been super cool… Like it’s kind of weird, you know, switching schools, but it’s honestly been as smooth as I could have possibly imagined it to be.”

Ironically, Millen could have been a Buff, and he almost was one at one point. The University of Colorado was one of multiple Pac-12 programs that heavily recruited him out of Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Washington. And with Millen having a lot of family in Colorado, it really made him heavily consider signing with the Buffaloes. 

In the end Millen ultimately ended up picking the University of Nevada, almost exclusively because of the coaches and the Air Raid offense. So, when Jay Norvell, Matt Mumme and Co. packed their bags and left Reno, NV. for ‘FoCo’, the decision to follow them was an easy one for Millen. 

“It was more of a coach’s choice than anything else,” Millen said. “Like I wanted to go play in that system. That’s why I chose Nevada. So as soon as they came here, the decision was easy. It was the same choice as high school.”

Knowing that he was always going to follow Norvell to CSU, Millen said that when he visited CSU with wide receiver Tory Horton and tight end Peter Montini in the winter, it was really more about convincing them to come with him. 

“I already knew I was coming, there was no way I was gonna want to go anywhere else, and so the entire time I was kind of just talking with Tory.”

Although he did not give specifics, Horton confirmed on Tuesday that he had  interest from a variety of schools around the country. But just like his quarterback, Horton wanted to continue to play in the Air Raid — a system in which he caught 10 touchdowns in over the last two seasons. And he wanted to continue to play for Norvell and Mumme, whom he already trusts. 

“We have some great coaches,” Horton said. “So, pretty much, the decision wasn’t that hard. I had a couple of other offers but just knowing what kind of coach Jay Norvell is and the other coaches that came with him, I just know that their mindset is to get us better. And to make us better men. So with that option, it really wasn’t that difficult.”

Horton, along with Romeo Doubbs (WR) and Cole Turner (TE), was one of Carson Strong’s favorite targets at UNR last fall. Despite changing uniforms, Horton will seemingly be in for another big year in the pass-heavy system. In order for him to put up the type of numbers that he is capable of, though, he will need Millen to step up and fill some pretty big shoes at QB.

After spending a year learning from Carson Strong, who Millen said is like a big brother to him, the redshirt freshman QB feels that he is in a good position to take the reins. Millen explained that his mindset all of last year was just to absorb as much as he possibly could. He knew the value of learning from one of the best quarterbacks in the country and so whether it was on the practice field, or in team meetings, Millen wanted to do everything like Strong. 

“He gave me a lot of great energy and great advice,” Millen said. “He was just super cool to me, so I’m super appreciative of him. And I’m really excited for him to go to the next level.”

Ram fans can see Millen, Horton and all of the new Rams in action during their open practices on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. For the first time in over a decade, access is completely open to any and all CSU supporters.

If you forgot what a deep ball looked like after the past two seasons, swing by the West side of Canvas Stadium between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m. and check it out firsthand. The vibes are much closer to an NFL training camp than things have ever been in the past. And it’s a lot of fun see a renewed energy around the program, as well as all of the new talent. 


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