From the hardwood to the gridiron Beckley seniors Maddex McMillen and Keynan Cook have been linking up for the better part of a decade.
That’s why it only made sense they shared one of their biggest moments together.
Cook and McMillen, surrounded by friends, teammates and family, signed their National Letters of Intent Monday at Woodrow Wilson High School to play college football. McMillen, the Flying Eagles’ record setting QB will continue his career at Marshall while Cook, one of the most prolific receivers in program history, will take his talents to Georgetown.
On a day that usually focuses on a single student-athlete, sharing the spotlight was a no-brainer.
“We’ve been together since third grade and I think it’s just right to do this together with him and share this experience together.” McMillen said.
“Ah, man it’s amazing,” Cook said. “I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else. He’s always been one of my teammates, one of my close friends. We started out together in elementary school so for us to have this special day together, it means a lot. I’m happy to see him going to Marshall. I didn’t know exactly where he would go but when he said Marshall I knew they’d make him feel at home. If he likes it then I like it.”
The duo hooked up 41 times in the regular season for 581 yards and four touchdowns, rewriting the record books in Beckley this past season while guiding the program to its first playoff berth since 2014.
Cook’s 13 catches against George Washington broke David Allen’s single-game record, while his yardage total (172) broke the single-game record established in 2020 by Jace Colucci. His 41 catches were also a single-season record. McMillen also established a new program record with over 235 career completions.
A three-year starter at the position, McMillen took his lumps early in his career but showed Beckley coach Street Sarrett more than enough to roll with him over the following two years.
“Maddex had his ups and downs but he’s going to go down as probably one of the best quarterbacks at Woodrow Wilson since I’ve been alive and seen them,” Sarrett said. “He’s just a tough, hard-nosed kid that wanted to win. That’s all he wanted to do. He had a great senior year and broke some records and got this team to the playoffs. As a 10th grader I told him he could do it and he’s done nothing but excel. I told somebody earlier today maybe we’ll see him as the starting quarterback for Marshall.”
McMillen finalized his decision following a visit to Marshall on Saturday, but the school had been atop his list of preferred destinations for awhile.
“I went there during the football season for a visit and it was nice,” McMillen said. “It was nice because it was a game visit so I got to watch a game. I actually knew somebody so we were able to get in the press box and see all the big seats. It was a great atmosphere and there were a lot of cool people and fans. Just the whole atmosphere there is really the reason I chose Marshall.”
Cook took a different path and has long known he’d be a Hoya, interested in the academics the institution offers as well as the opportunity to play football.
“I met the Georgetown coach when I was on a bus tour and was at a camp in Maryland,” Cook said. “He said he really liked the way I played and wanted me to come down there and see the place. He invited me down when I got off the bus tour and I just fell in love with the place. It’s so diverse and there’s so much stuff to do in D.C. It just felt like a place I need to be and the academics are a plus too.”
Both players will be challenged on the academic side as well. Cook plans to study Human Science with an emphasis in physical therapy or exercise physiology while McMillen plans to go into Pre-Med.
Challenges are nothing new for the duo though. During their sophomore and junior seasons they accumulated just two wins and were on track to miss the playoffs again, sitting at 2-5 after seven weeks. It taught the duo how to handle adversity as they helped the program to three straight wins to close out the regular season with the final one coming on the road against defending Class AAA champion South Charleston.
“Coach Sarrett, he’s a great man,” Cook said. “He’s always told us that even if it’s not working out in the beginning that doesn’t mean you just give up because it can always fall into place. Towards the end of the season last year it just started falling into place and we just got all the young guys on board. We’ve seen how our teams go. We’ve started off the season strong then all of a sudden we’re 1-8 so we just wanted to make sure we played the whole season and kept giving effort and it ended up paying off for us.”
Those words rang true for the seniors who accepted fluid roles throughout the season. During a Week 4 win against Morgantown the Flying Eagles operated out of a more run-heavy, wing-t offense, shifting away from their spread style that utilized the duos’s talents. Each bought into change and capitalized when their numbers were called. They hooked up six times for 137 yards and two scores in the victory with a 48-yard acrobatic touchdown pass from McMillen to Cook standing out as one of the game’s highlights.
“They accepted it and we did a little bit of both,” Sarrett said. “That was part of out scheme. We lined Maddex up at tailback during the Morgantown game and Keynan took some handoffs. The year before he played some tailback in that wing-t, so they understood what we were trying to do. When we needed to spread out and pass they were right there. They were competitors always trying to win.
As they trade in their maroon for different colors, Sarrett is left to reflect on what both have meant for the program as well as the community. The reviews are glowing.
“They’re leaving it in a good state,” Sarrett said. “These guys that are going to be seniors next year got to see those guys lead and what to do, what not to do and how they handle things in certain situations. They’re leaving their fingerprints on the program here and showed kids how to handle certain situations.
“We talk about legends in our Hall of Fame and you talk about guys like Doug Legursky and Matt Moore. These guys will go down with those guys and Andrew Johnson. They’re great leaders for our team and this community, just not for football and basketball but just in the community too. Little kids look up to them and they don’t have that big head where they think they’re better than everybody else. They’re very humble and you have to make them talk about themselves. They’re good role models for kids.”
Email: Tylerjackson@lootpress.com and follow on Twitter @tjack94