Freshman quarterback Jack Milas signs autographs after the spring football game on April 19 at Scheumann Stadium. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
FOOTBALL: Milas brings his 'signature smile' to team as new starting quarterback
Junior wide receiver Jordan Williams described the new starting quarterback for the football team as goofy, crazy, silly and having a never-ending smile.
It’s just who Jack Milas is.
“He’ll run up to me every day all excited, yelling ‘What’s up big J-Will,’ and giving me high fives,” Williams said laughing. “The guy never stops joking and always has everybody laughing.”
Milas takes over for Ozzie Mann after five weeks of sitting on the bench as the third string quarterback. Despite initially being upset, he quickly improved and showed his coaches he has the ability to start.
Quarterback isn’t the only position Milas is familiar with. From the third grade until he was a freshman in high school, he was an offensive lineman.
Every starting offensive lineman at Ball State dwarfs Milas. At just 6 feet and 215 pounds, he said he’s glad he made the choice to change his position. After all, linemen don’t throw for 32 touchdowns as Milas did as a senior at Rolling Meadows High School in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
“I was a big boy at the time, a real big boy,” Milas said. “But my dad gave me throwing lessons one time, and I stuck with it.”
In high school, Milas was a three-sport athlete, competing in football, baseball and basketball. He spent a lot of time playing baseball and recognized that he had a strong arm. After a while, playing quarterback seemed natural to him.
Now a redshirt freshman at Ball State, Milas said he surrounds himself with nothing but schoolwork and football. He said when he’s not at practice, he either has his nose in a textbook or is trying to catch up on sleep.
Sounds like a typical college student, although even when he’s tired, it’s hard to wipe his signature smile off his face.
“I don’t know how he does it, but he’s always smiling. You never see him not smiling,” Williams said. “Even when he’s mad, he’s still smiling. Guy is a goofy kid.”
Milas shares his happiness with roommate, teammate and best friend Pat Maloney. They’re from the same area of Illinois, and Milas said they do nearly everything together.
Even their teammates notice how similar the two are to one another.
“We’re always messing around, and people joke around about us because we talk in the same accent,” Milas said. “It’s great to have someone you can always be yourself around.”
On the practice field, Williams said Milas takes his job seriously, but still acts goofy and keeps things lighthearted.
“He’s younger than me, and I kind of look at him like a little brother,” Williams said. “He’s cracking jokes in the locker room and we make fun of each other.”
As much fun as they have, things became serious on Sunday night.
After Ball State’s defeat against Army, offensive coordinator Joey Lynch said he and the coaching staff reviewed the game film and made a decision to change quarterbacks. They liked what they had seen from Milas in the weeks leading up to the game, showing he could command the offense as well as anybody on the team.
“We’ve always thought that Jack has a lot of physical ability,” Lynch said. “He’s really studied the game even through the fall ... sometimes as a quarterback it’s not bad to step back and digest it, that’s what kind of happened to him.”
Milas was called into Lynch’s office and was told he would be the starting quarterback. The change was a surprise to him, saying he didn’t expect it.
He first told his family and those close to him. It didn’t take long before his phone wouldn’t stop lighting up, with friends in Illinois bombarding his phone with congratulatory calls and texts.
“Everybody’s been really excited for me. My parents told me that I worked really hard and this is what I came to Ball State for,” Milas said.
Even with the sudden change, Milas said he isn’t overwhelmed. Going into summer training, he was competing with fellow quarterbacks Mann, Kyle Kamman and David Morrison. He said by the time the season rolled around, he didn’t feel like he deserved to be the starting quarterback after regressing during summer play.
Regardless, he knew his number could be called at any moment.
“I wanted to make sure I was always ready. You never know, you’re only one or two plays away from being under center,” he said.
Before each game, Milas listens to music and enters his own world, relaxing before running out onto the field. He described himself as happy, quiet and relaxed. Williams called him a shy person until he becomes comfortable.
“Once he gets to know you, the smile comes out,” Williams said.
He’s got plenty of reasons to smile now.