NORMAN, Okla. -- Trey Millard stepped onto the University of Oklahoma campus with the maturity and focus that is uncommon among freshmen.
He made an immediate impact, becoming the Sooners' starting fullback and scoring four touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per touch in 2010.
And Millard's focus and maturity didn't end on the football field. The sophomore's commitment to excellence extended to the classroom during his first semester on campus.
"Usually the first semester sets the tone," said Annette Moran, the assistant director for academic affairs at OU. "He absolutely rocked it out of the park. That first semester is usually a good indication.
"I knew very early on he was really committed to making this a big part of his life."
Millard finished with a grade point average above 3.5 in his first semester and has continued to earn high grades while majoring in psychology, one of the toughest majors at OU. He earned the Jay Myers Award, an award given to freshmen for academic excellence, during his first year in Norman.
"I had to sit down with him and be honest," Moran said of her reaction when she found out Millard was looking to major in psychology. "Not to change his mind but to let him know what he would be facing and tell him, 'You're going to be challenged and it's going to be difficult. You have to make a decision now if you're willing and able to put in the time that is going to be required.' "
The prospect of trying to handle a difficult major while starting for one of the best football teams in the country did not faze Millard. He entered school knowing he wanted to major in psychology because it has always piqued his interest.
"It's the human brain, the most powerful thing on the planet," Millard said of why he chose psychology. "Understanding it and how it works, there's a lot of weaknesses and strengths and why we work the way we do."
The first semester on campus is a defining checkpoint and potential roadblock for college freshmen, even more so for a freshman football player who makes an immediate impact on the field.
But Millard handled the transition from Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge to OU with relative ease because his mother, Joy, had pushed the importance of education throughout his childhood. He was a member of the National Honor Society in high school and even had two poems published before he enrolled at OU.
"She made sure I knew the student part comes first in student-athlete," Millard said of his mother, who happens to be the director of conferences at the University of Missouri.
Thus Millard developed quality study habits and realized early in life that time management should be a priority.
"A lot of that developed in high school and just carried over, just understanding you need to put in the extra hours," he said. "It's just more extreme here with the football demands and academic demands."
"That first semester is tough, especially when you are playing, so to pull it out like he did is really impressive," Moran said. "Not only has he been making it through, he's been excelling."
Moran has also been impressed by the aggressive approach taken by Millard, who is on track to graduate in four years, to earn his degree.
"He's really good about coming to visit me weekly," Moran said. "He's very quick to ask questions; he's not just sitting there thinking, 'Oh, I'll be fine.' He's proactive in making sure he takes care of everything he needs to do.
"He's very mature, he knows what he wants and he values his education. He knows it is important."
Brandon Chatmon covers University of Oklahoma sports and recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.