Wyatt Milum is the third-highest-rated high school football prospect to come out of West Virginia over the last decade.
Milum, a three-time all-state lineman for Spring Valley High School in Huntington, chose the Mountaineers over a slew of offers from Power 5 programs such as Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech.
While the prospects were there for the No. 1 right tackle in the country to play at practically any school in the NCAA, one thing kept him in the Mountain State.
“To be able to play for your home state, that’s really special,” Milum said last week. “(WVU) felt like home. They always took care of me and my family when I was here. It just felt like a home atmosphere.”
There was a point in his athletics career when it looked like Milum was going to play a different sport at the college level. At one time, he verbally committed to play baseball for Marshall. The big left-hander sported a high-80s fastball, and also threw two other pitches with success.
Milum, however, eventually put down the baseball and focused solely on football. Despite the stark differences between pitching on the diamond and blocking on the gridiron, his baseball background does shine through.
“He can stay on his feet,” said offensive line coach Matt Moore. “He does a phenomenal job with his hands. You know, huge baseball background, so really good hand-eye coordination.”
Milum was part of the offensive line rotation from the moment he arrived in Morgantown. As a freshman last season, he played in 12 games and started eight of the final nine contests of the season, including the bowl game.
Two weeks removed from an injury that forced him to sit out the Baylor game, Milum was named WVU’s Offensive Lineman of the Week in the team’s win over Iowa State. A month later, he logged a career-high 90 snaps against the Texas Longhorns.
“That was definitely my goal, was to become the starter,” said Milum. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play college football, so when I got here I wanted to start.”
Milum leaned on WVU’s two other Mountain State natives on the offensive line, Zach Frazier and Doug Nester, both of whom also started games at the D-I level as true freshmen.
“They definitely helped me out a lot. Doug, especially, whenever I had to ask him questions or anything, he would stay with me after practice and help me with stuff,” Milum said.
Nester knows what it’s like to be a highly touted freshman. A fellow Spring Valley Timberwolves standout, Nester is one of the two in-state products who had a higher rating than Milum as a high school prospect in the last decade.
The two former high school teammates reunited with the Mountaineers. Nester spent the first two years of his collegiate career at Virginia Tech before transferring to WVU. The two even lined up beside one another last year.
That will no longer be the case, though, due to a position change in the offseason.
Despite being naturally left-handed, Milum has only played on the right side of the offensive line. A 19-year streak of always being to the right side of his center came to an end in the winter when Milum switched to left tackle.
While Milum is still getting adjusted to playing on the opposite end of West Virginia’s offensive front, he’s becoming more comfortable in the position every day.
“I feel like my hands are better on the left side, I guess because I’m left-handed, and it’s more natural, I would say,” Milum said.
Moore agrees that Milum seems more comfortable playing on the left side of the line.
Not only was the offseason important for Milum in terms of learning a new position, and everything that comes with it, but also in terms of adding strength and physically maturing.
“He’s got a really, really great motor. He plays really, really hard,” said Moore. “Just watching him mature and watching him get better and continue to get stronger. Super competitive kid.”
In Moore’s eyes, athleticism is Milum’s best trait.
The big left tackle, who earned multiple Freshman All-America Team selections last year, is expected to be one of the top offensive linemen in the conference this season.
He garnered Preseason All-Big 12 Conference honors by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports. Milum was also named to the Lombardi Trophy Watch List.