Bryan Mills was hoping to hear his name called during the 2021 NFL Draft last weekend, but unfortunately this was not the case for the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) cornerback.
However, this did not stop the Palmdale, California native from reaching his dream of making the NFL. On Saturday, May 1, Mills signed a free agent contract with the Seahawks becoming the latest COC alum to make the NFL.
Mills played in eight games during his lone season in Santa Clarita at COC in 2018. He helped the Cougars go 10-0 in the regular season and win the Southern California Football Association National Division, Northern League Championship. The 2018 COC defensive unit was the best in the state, allowing just 9.5 points per game and surrendering only 10 touchdowns in 10 regular season games.
He was described by COC head coach Ted Iacenda as someone who has “unrivalled tenacity” and someone who will “outwork anyone”. Of all the players to ever wear a COC uniform Coach Iacenda believes that “There is a case to be made that Bryan Mills is quite possibly the hardest working young man who has ever walked through our doors.” These attributes helped Mills land a scholarship offer from NCCU, which plays at the College Football Subdivision level (FCS).
From that 2018 COC team, 15 players moved on from Santa Clarita to play at the Division 1 level, including nine defensive backs. Mills is also one of five former Cougars to play at an HBCU in the last eight years.
Mills immediately helped the NCCU defense in his first season on campus in 2019. He led the conference in interceptions (5) and passes defended (13). His on the field performance helped Mills earn First-Team All MEAC honors, as well as, All-American honors by the FCS coaches. On September 28, against Morgan State, Mills tied NCCU’s school record for interceptions in a game with three.
Mills was primed for big things in 2020 and was named a preseason All-American before the coronavirus pandemic put the 2020 season on hold. Ultimately, Mills decided that it was in his best interest to opt-out and prepare for the NFL Draft. His breakout 2019 season was enough to earn him an invite to the 2020 Senior Bowl, held annually in Mobile, Alabama. This was a great opportunity for Mills to show off his talents to NFL scouts and he did just that. During the Senior Bowl, Mills made four tackles and had a pass breakup which impressed the scouts in attendance and boosted his draft stock.
Just hours after day three of the NFL draft concluded Mills’ talents were picked up and signed by the Seahawks. He signified the accomplishment by tweeting out “I’m a Seattle Seahawk!!!!!” Mills expressed his excitement for the opportunity to play at football’s highest level, saying, “Can’t wait to just get out there and start making a name for myself.”
Santa Clarita should get our first look at Mills in a Seahawks uniform in mid May for the three day rookie minicamp. If he is able to make the team’s 90 man roster he will be back in June for team minicamps. From there, Mills would be back for training camp which starts for rookies sometime in mid July.
Mills will join two notable COC alumni in the NFL. Marquise Brown (COC ‘16) was selected in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens in 2019 and has been one of their top pass catchers in each of his first two seasons. The second is Jason Pierre-Paul (COC ‘07) who last season won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He posted 9.5 sacks for one of the league’s best defenses.
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