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5 Things To Know About WR Dax Milne

BYU wide receiver Dax Milne makes a reception for a first down in the second quarter against North Alabama during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger, Pool)
BYU wide receiver Dax Milne makes a reception for a first down in the second quarter against North Alabama during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger, Pool)

The Washington Football Team used its final pick (258th overall) to select BYU wide receiver Dax Milne.

Milne (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) was one of No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson's primary targets for the Cougars last season, as he put together a career season with 1,188 yards and eight touchdowns on 70 receptions, and he was an All-American selection by Pro Football Focus.

Here are five things to know about one of the team's newest receivers.

1. He bet on himself as a walk-on at BYU

After concluding a solid career at Bingham High School that featured three state championships as well as All-State and All-Region honors, Milne had two options in front of him. He could sign Weber State's full-ride scholarship offer to play in the Football Championship Subdivision, or he could listen to BYU head coach Kalani Sitake and join the Cougars as a preferred walk-on.

There are no guarantees with walking on to a Division I school. He would have to prove himself and pay for tuition through other means. Still, it was an opportunity he could not turn down, so he chose BYU. Needless to say, it worked out in his favor.

"I showed BYU coaches that I was all-in when I walked on, and they have paid me back by just giving me the chance, the opportunity, if I was ready," Milne told Deseret News. "Then they stuck to their word."

In truth, BYU's coaches wanted to give Milne a scholarship in February of 2018 but had used their allotted number for that signing period. Milne came to practice with "a chip on his shoulder," said receivers coach Fesi Sitake, and was determined to prove that he could be a good receiver. He did not get many opportunities during his freshman season, but he made the most of his situation with 10 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown that came in the 2018 season finale against Western Michigan.

After months of competing, the moment finally arrived; one of BYU's 85 scholarships had opened up prior to spring football in 2019, and the coaches wanted to award it to Milne. Fesi was the one who got to tell Milne the good news, and the joy on Milne's face made it an "unforgettable deal" for Fesi. Milne rewarded BYU by quadrupling his production in his sophomore season with 285 yards on 21 catches.

"He isn't just a walk-on who earned a scholarship to me," Fesi said. "I know his parents. I know his siblings. I know how he has been raised. All those factors made it that much more gratifying."

2. He and his father had a similar path to professional sports

Milne is not the first person in his family to make it to the professional ranks. It was just in a different sport.

Milne's father, Darren, had a similar path in his playing career. He put together a successful high school campaign at Midvale School, walked on to BYU's baseball team and became a key piece to the Cougars' lineup. He was a .372 hitter during his junior season, which helped him get drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 19th round of the MLB draft.

Like Dax, Darren had to decide whether or not to forgo his final year of eligibility to pursue a professional career. It was a big decision for both of them; Darren rose as high as the Triple-A level before being released by the Toledo Mud Hens. He is not concerned about whether his son will succeed, though, because of a pivotal difference between them: Dax's confidence.

"He just has something inside him, a belief in himself, that I never had," Darren told Deseret News.

Confidence aside, it was another gamble on Dax's part, considering it wasn't certain that he would get drafted. Dax admitted that possibility was a "big worry" for him when he made his decision to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

"I was always thinking, 'What if I regret it in the future?'" Dax said. "But since I announced, thus far throughout this whole process, it has been great. I have had a good feeling about everything and no regrets so far."

Now, like Darren before him, Dax has found a new team, as Washington used its last pick to take him in the seventh round. It's an opportunity for him to both walk in his father's footsteps and surpass them.

"That is something that is deep inside him, and he has that confidence that he wants to play against the best, and that he can succeed against the best," Darren said. "He is never cocky, but is always just super confident in his ability."

3. He created a strong bond with Zach Wilson

Former Cougars star quarterback Zach Wilson and Milne, Wilson's favorite target in 2020, are now best friends -- they even used to watch The Bachelorette together -- but that wasn't always the case.

Wilson and Milne's history goes far beyond their time together at BYU. They used to attend rival schools and were each other's competition in track and basketball. That can naturally create some animosity, but then they started attending the same middle school, and Milne slowly started to warm up to Wilson, partly because they shared mutual friends.

"I just respected him because of how much of a competitor he was," Milne told the Salt Lake Tribune. "And then, you know how it is, once you start being on the same team, you start kind of growing a brotherhood. And then a friendship grew."

Their bond continued throughout high school, and even though Wilson eventually transferred, they were still close. It was actually Wilson who helped persuade Milne to join BYU as a walk-on, and he said it was a "huge relief" when Milne finally received a scholarship.

"It was rough to have him push away some of the offers he had to come here and walk on," Wilson said in 2019. "It was a risk he was willing to take. … But he really puts in the extra work, and he deserved it, for sure. It is awesome, how quickly it came for him and he's been a big part of our team this year."

Now, the two are competitors once again, as Wilson was taken No. 2 overall by the New York Jets, but after years of being together, it doesn't look like that will affect their friendship in the slightest.

"I feel like, even when football ends, we'll always keep in touch," Milne said.

4. He had one of the most productive 2020 seasons in college football

It took Milne three seasons to find his rhythm; the 2020 season was the first time he made more than four receptions in a game. But like everything else in Milne's life, his patience paid off.

The stats show that Milne was obviously good last season. He led the team in receptions (70) and yards (1,188), both of which dwarfed his numbers in his previous two seasons combined. But his performance is even more impressive when it's stacked up against some of the best wideouts in college football. His yardage ranked fourth among all receivers. The only three better than him were North Texas' Jaelon Darden, Ole Miss' Elijah Moore and Alabama's DeVonta Smith. Smith and Moore were taken in the first and second round, respectively.

What's more, he was one of the most sure-handed receivers among this year's draft class. His drop rate (2.8%) was tied for the third-lowest with Kadarius Toney. Wilson consistently looked for Milne on the field, too, as Milne accounted for nearly a third of his passing yards and a quarter of his touchdowns.

Milne had six 100-yards games in 2020 after not recording one in his freshman or sophomore seasons, starting with a 140-yard performance in a 48-7 win over Troy. His best game, though, came three games later against Houston, when he hauled in nine receptions for 184 yards and three touchdowns, the last of which helped seal the game.

"That dude's a playmaker," Wilson said of Milne after the game. "I believed in that guy since day one. I've always known he was going to be a big-time player for us."

5. He brings even more competition to Washington's receiver corps

Washington's wide receiver room suddenly became much more crowded than it was last season.

Head coach Ron Rivera made it a priority to bring more competition to the position in 2021, and it is safe to say that was achieved. The team signed Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries in free agency, both of whom bring several years of experience to the group, and prior to taking Milne, it used a third-round pick on North Carolina wideout Dyami Brown. And then there's Kelvin Harmon, who is coming back from a knee injury suffered before training camp, along with the other receivers who are looking to make an impact.

Although Milne will certainly face his share of challenges, it seems like he has already impressed Rivera during rookie minicamp.

"Dax Milne came across as a lot bigger and stouter than I anticipated," Rivera said. "He is a good route runner with good size. To me, that is a pleasant surprise. For a guy that plays slot, you usually have a smaller guy. This guy had a little more size and he looked good out there on the football field."

It still is not a guarantee Milne will make the 53-man roster, but there are still about four months until those decisions are made. At the very least, Milne is starting his career off the right way.

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