RICHMOND — They have known each other since kindergarten. They went through grade school together, and their families attend the same church.
They are of similar size and build. They play alongside each other on the football field, and their uniforms are one number apart. They even had surgery on the same day for the same injury.
"It's not about individual accolades," Mayo said. "It's about a national championship, a CAA championship."
If the Spiders are to return to the FCS playoffs, the Hampton natives and childhood friends must contribute, on and off the field.
Richmond slogged through a 6-5 season last year, when injuries at quarterback hamstrung the offense and, by extension, overworked a very good defense.
Now, with Southern California transfer quarterback Aaron Corp healthy again, the offense should be much improved. However, the defense will miss a trio of playmakers in lineman Martin Parker, linebacker Eric McBride and cornerback Justin Rogers.
"I read where someone called us a 'no-name defense,'|" McMillan said. "I kind of like that because it means that no one person is the focus, and everybody has to make plays. This year, we have a lot of guys striving and thirsting to make plays. We have the potential to be a better defense than last year."
McMillan and Mayo figure to be in the thick of the action. The redshirt juniors are inside linebackers when the Spiders play a four-linebacker scheme, while McMillan plays the middle and Mayo outside when they employ a three-linebacker lineup.
McMillan is 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, Mayo 5-10 and 225 pounds. Both make up for their lack of size by playing physically — "downhill," in Mayo's words, taking on blockers and running through people rather than around them.
"Sometimes, it's hard to tell us apart on the field," Mayo said.
It's no coincidence that both are college football players. Mayo is the younger brother of New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo and NFL free-agent signee Deron Mayo, who concluded his college career last fall at Old Dominion.
McMillan's older brother, Lashae, played cornerback at VMI and mentored him in the fine art of playing bigger than your measurables.
"We thought years ago that they'd be great players," UR second-year head coach Latrell Scott said. "They're hard-working guys. They're two 5-11, 220-pound linebackers that are almost twins, and they spend every minute of their lives together."
Not quite, but close. Both are polite and engaging to a fault. Mayo is the more gregarious of the two, while McMillan is by nature more reserved.
They grew up a couple of streets away from each other in the Buckroe area of Hampton. The only time they diverged was when McMillan transferred from Kecoughtan to Phoebus for his last two years of high school, taking advantage of an academic program that permitted the move.
Mayo, meanwhile, remained at Kecoughtan and still needles McMillan about bailing out. They were roommates as freshmen at UR, but live apart now, thought they still spend quite a bit of time together.
They compete at everything. Mayo is the better golfer, McMillan the better bowler. When they play "Call of Duty" or "NCAA Football" video games, Mayo is better on PlayStation, McMillan better on Xbox — something about the game controls being better suited to one over the other.
Scott recruited both Mayo and McMillan as a Richmond assistant before he went to Tennessee, and the ties between him and the respective families are almost spooky.