Q&A with new Football Club quarterback Justin Mills


Oakland University quarterback Justin Mills carries the ball during the club’s 27-26 homecoming victory over UW-Milwaukee. 

In his first game for the Golden Grizzlies, Oakland University Football Club quarterback Justin Mills put up over 200 yards of total offense along with two rushing touchdowns in their 27-26 homecoming victory over UW-Milwaukee. Mills led the offense on a game-winning drive with less than two minutes remaining. 

What is your class standing, age and major?

Freshman, 21, business management.

Being 21 and a freshman, what were you up to between the end of high school and now?

Well, I went to OCC (Oakland Community College) for two years after high school, but after my first year there, I switched majors. So, only 20 credits from OCC transferred over to OU, that’s why I’m only considered a freshman at OU.

How many credits are you taking this semester?

I’m taking eight credits at OU right now.

Do you commute to OU? 

I do commute to OU. I have an apartment just outside of Auburn Hills, so it’s really only a 10-15 minute drive for me which isn’t bad at all.

When did you start playing football?

Been playing football since I was probably four, but I started playing organized football in sixth grade.

What made you decide to play for Oakland University this year?

I love football and saw OU as a great opportunity to continue playing. I also really want to help the program grow. I believe that OU should have football for its students and the community. There’s so much football talent around Oakland county, so it would be great for this program to grow and OU, and it give kids in the area an opportunity to play football close to home.

So before playing for OU this year, this was your first time playing organized football since high school?

Yeah, this is my first time since high school playing organized football.

Did you play any other sports in high school?

In high school, I played football for four years, basketball for three years, baseball for a year and golf for a year.

What are your hobbies outside of football?

I love to hunt. Deer hunting is a huge passion of mine.

What motivates you in football and in life in general?

The thing that motivates me most in football, and even in life, is family. In football, your teammates are your family. So they’re what motivate me to be the best person and best teammate I can be.

Given the inherent risk of injury (particularly head injuries) of football, how do you balance wanting to continue playing the sport versus being mindful of your (present and future) health?

Health is always a big concern. when you’re in high school you don’t think about it as much but now being even just a little older, it’s harder for your body to recover. The guys we play against are bigger and faster, so the chance of injury is much higher, but for me I’m always so competitive that during the game and practice, the thought of injury really never crosses my mind. I am just trying to play as fast and as hard as I can at all times.

You played with Brandon Tucker in high school, what role did he play in getting you to come to OU and play? 

Brandon really wanted me to play last year, but I just didn’t have the time or the finances to do it. So, if it weren’t for a few time and money constrictions, I would have played last year. But Brandon is one of my best friends so he definitely played a big role in getting me to come out this year.

How has having a receiver you played with in high school helped you on the field this season?

I was lucky enough to play with Brandon in high school, and we were able to develop great chemistry over those years. It really is helpful having him to throw the ball too, especially considering I haven’t played in three years. So it gives me a lot more confidence, and I’m much more comfortable knowing that I have someone like Brandon to throw the ball to.

And can you just talk a little about head coach Chris Pickney and his staff, and the offensive and defensive schemes they use? 

Well Coach Pickney has a military background so he definitely pushes us to be the best we can be every day. He also is very big on accountability. He wants us to be a disciplined tough football team four quarters at a time. The whole coaching staff is great, they’re all knowledgeable and great teachers of the game. I’ve certainly enjoyed the entire coaching staff. Defensively we run a base 4-3 but we have a lot of other defensive formations that we run as well depending on game situation. Offensively we run the spread. We have a lot of athletic guys and we try to get them the ball in space. We run a lot of the same plays just out of multiple sets to keep the defense on their heels.

What are your individual and team goals for this season?

Individually this season, I’d love to be an NCFA All-American, but really my main focus is to just help my team win. As a quarterback, it’s never really about you. It’s about leading the team and putting them in the best position to win football games. Our team goal is to win the conference, and then have an opportunity to compete for a national championship. Right now our focus though is one game at a time, and if we can play our game all year, hopefully we’ll be playing in Salem, VA.

The OU Football Club’s Sept. 28 away game with Defiance was canceled, but the Golden Grizzlies are set to square off against DePaul Saturday, Oct. 4.