Written by Ryan Wright
One of the reasons the Anthem city lights drowned out the stars in the night sky on Fridays during the fall of 2019 was due to a star on the gridiron – Bear Milacek. Milacek lit up 6A Arizona Desert Valley defenses a year ago throwing for 2,379 yards with 14 touchdowns while rushing 50 times for 274 more yards with two more scores lighting up the big board during the 11-game schedule. As the three-star Boulder Creek High School talent carried the Jaguars offense on the field, off it Milacek was a superstar in the classroom sporting a 4.0 cumulative GPA with a 1330 scored on the PSAT. The culmination of the work has landed offers from Western Kentucky and Valparaiso with teams across the country ready to see him sling the pigskin around this season.
In an RNG exclusive interview partnered with QB Hit List, Milacek brings us inside the huddle with insight on the Jaguars’ Spread offense, his offseason workouts, and an update on his recruiting process.
Bear, during your junior run you were slinging the ball all over the yard. What was working for you and your receiving corps in the passing game in 2019?
“The short passes were great for our team, especially since I had a great connection with my running back. He was getting open and on the outside our receiver was super-fast; we used him for deep passes. That was successful for us this past year.”
Executing the Spread, how does that fit your skills and style of play?
“I feel like I can play in any offense. This year, playing in the Spread, it was successful because of the players we had and the RPO (run-pass option). We stayed in the Spread, especially when we knew we could beat a team athletically; our coach put that on us to do.”
What were some of the routes you were connecting on last year?
“Digs, screens, slants, out-routes, go-routes, posts, quick seams, and comebacks.”
How did your overall game improve through the 11-game schedule?
“Personally, I got better at reading defenses. I found myself where I was not guessing, because I knew what was going to happen. Because I had seen it before, I was playing off muscle memory. I didn’t have to think, it clicked, I read it, and knew where to go and made the play.”
You have a gun for an arm and a gunslinger mentality in the pocket. As a quarterback who is confident in his arm strength and talent, do you or how do you pull the reigns back from time to time to help take care of the ball without forcing throws?
“My coaches helped me with that. My head coach helps me a lot with that in practice. I have learned that I have a strong arm, and that I can force throws 18 to 20 yards in the first window with my arm. All of it depends on the personnel and knowing who I am throwing to on a play. If I know he can catch a hard pass, I’ll do it, or if it is a different guy that can’t handle it, I don’t have throw it that hard; it is like playing catch.”
Are there any offensive changes coming this season?
“We will be running me more. I got confirmation on that. We will not do the Wildcat as much. They are turning me into a dual-threat. We are throwing as much as last season but running me in different situations.”
To dominate on the field during the season, what are you working on this offseason?
“My trainer and I have been doing explosive stuff working on jumps, starts, and explosion when I am running so I can be effective. I am also working on my throwing, on the passes that I struggle with like rolling to my left; stuff all right-handed QBs need to focus on. Improving on that, hopefully it will make a big difference on the field this season.”
How have you been expanding your understanding of the game since the season ended?
“I usually watch my film, not my highlights, but the game reel. I have been working with a few college coaches on the board. They will pick my brain on different plays and coverages. One of the biggest parts about working with a college offensive coordinator is to see the fit, if I fit in the program. That is about it right now.”
That’s cool. Following up on that, what have you been learning from the different collegiate offensive coordinators?
“We go over their offense and we talk about how to read Mike linebackers. Different schools do different things with different concepts. If I don’t know something, they teach me.”
Which programs have been showing you interest?
“Columbia, University of San Diego, New Mexico, Iowa State, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, Yale, Southern Utah, NAU, NIU, Georgetown, Harvard, Air Force and Army.”
Wow. Which schools have offered?
“Valparaiso and Western Kentucky.”
Going back a few months, did you get to take any visits?
“Yes, I visited Arizona State, Iowa State, Washington, and NAU.”
How did the ASU visit turn out?
“I went to about every home game this past season; they treated me amazingly each time. We got to go on the field before the game, they had great food, it was an awesome game day experience.”
And the Iowa State visit?
“That was awesome. Brock Purdy trains with my QB coach. Coach (Joel) Gordon (passing game OC) was awesome. He came down to visit me at school, and so did some of the UCLA and Baylor coaches last year, to watch me throw. Iowa State was amazing. When I was there for a camp, they showed me around. It was awesome.”
Once the campuses open back up, are you planning any visits?
“Hopefully I will be going to UCLA and I am planning on going to every school that offers me. All my offers, I will visit.”
Bear, thanks for your time today and good luck with your recruiting and workouts this summer.
Photo credit: Milacek family; Bear Milacek at the 2020 Elite 11 California Regional and on the field during the 2019 season