Monroe Mills entered his last summer of high school with a couple of milestones left to accomplish.
The Tolton offensive lineman had narrowed his college choices to four schools (Missouri, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Indiana), and he was to spend the summer considering his options. He also had his senior football season to look forward to, and he hoped to help take the Trailblazers further than the district semifinal finish they had in 2018.
The first of those milestones was met last Friday when Mills announced his commitment to the Cowboys over the Tigers, Jayhawks and Hoosiers. But he won’t have the opportunity to complete the other, as Mills revealed this week that he will miss his senior year due to a torn ACL. The Columbia Daily Tribune first reported the story.
“It kind of sucks,” Mills told the Tribune regarding the injury. “(But) you’ve got to realize what’s the best for the future.”
Mills, at 6-foot-7 and 285-pounds, was expected to be one of the biggest contributors to Tolton’s offensive success in 2019. But with the injury keeping him sidelined for the season, head coach Michael Egnew said the Trailblazers will be up against the monumental task of filling the gap Mills leaves behind.
“Anytime you get a kid like that, and you lose him and have to replace him, it’s going to have a huge impact,” Egnew told the Missourian on Friday. “He’ll be a college football player, so filling his void is not going to be easy. That being said, our guys have all stepped up to the plate. They’ve all accepted the challenge and we’re ready to go out there and get it.”
The injury, though, won’t keep Mills away from the program.
Egnew said that he and Mills have discussed Mills’ relationship with the team moving forward, and Mills has decided to stick around the program. With a future Division I football player still at his disposal, Egnew didn’t want to let Mills’ knowledge of the game go to waste.
“You bring him in, and he’s kind of like an extra coach,” Egnew said. “He’s going to help the o-line out. He’ll be kind of like the assistant o-line coach.”
Mills spent the past few months deciding between leaving Columbia or staying and joining his hometown team at Missouri. He told the Tribune that all the programs recruiting him knew about his injury — which he suffered at a Missouri football camp in June — but did not pull back on their recruitment, and Egnew said that the decision came down to the Tigers and the Cowboys.
By the end of the process, Egnew believes the coaches at Oklahoma State sold their program better than Barry Odom and Missouri did, and Mills made the choice to leave home. The Cowboys and Tigers met in the Liberty Bowl last December, with Oklahoma State getting a close 38-33 win.
“It was an equal grab between Mizzou and Oklahoma State, (and) it’s up to those particular colleges that recruit their kids to get them there,” Egnew said. “Oklahoma State is a great school. They’ve done some things over the past years, winning records every single year ... He’ll do a good job there. I think the offense fits well to his skillset.”
The news also confirms that Mills’ wrestling career at Tolton is over, too.
His senior wrestling season was already in doubt, as Mills hopes to enroll at Oklahoma State early and leave for Stillwater in January. Although there was still the possibility that Mills would stay and try to build on his 41-8 record and third-place finish at 285 pounds in Class 1 from a season ago, fully recovering from the injury would likely have taken him past the end of the wrestling season.
Now, without his senior football season ahead of him, the only milestone left for Mills is to recover and try to make an impact with the Cowboys come the 2020 college football season.
Supervising editor is Michael Knisley.