The sky is illuminated bright red from the stadium lights that are diffused through the morning fog. It’s 6 a.m. and the Jake McMillian and the UGA Paint Line, along with hundreds of fans gather on Myers Quad for College Football Gameday.
McMillian and the rest of the guys on the Paint Line prepare for a long day of cheering the dawgs to represent the dawgs and their faith in Jesus.
Even though kickoff is not for another six hours, the Paint Line has to prepare for the day. The “paint girls” are responsible for actually painting the guys everywhere from their head to inside their ears.
Each person on the Paint Line represents two letters or symbols each week. The team spells out Georgia Dawgs on their front and a game-specific message on their back. They all wear aviators and red wigs but a distinct feature of their uniform is the black cross painted on their left shoulder.
The cross symbolizes the reason for the Paint Line to exist. The group has a theme verse from the Bible in Colossians 3:23. McMillian quotes it, but in his own words: “Whatever you do, do heartily as unto the Lord.”
For the members on the Paint Line, the cross is the most important part. Jake McMillian is hopeful that their passion for Jesus is seen more than their passion for Georgia football.
“Not everybody paints up, not everybody gets to the gates super early, not everybody is willing to devote an entire Saturday to Georgia football” said McMillian “so, obviously we show a lot of passion for the Dawgs but our hope is that through our platform, and showing our passion for Georgia football, we show an even greater passion for the cause of Jesus Christ.”
McMillian’s role as captain means he oversees the logistics and the public relations while finishing a major in management with an emphasis in human resources analytics and a minor in Swahili. On top of that, he is also the student pastor of Fusion Church of Madison Georgia.
Located 27 miles from Athens, Fusion Church is home to Fuse Youth, McMillian’s student ministry.
McMillian used to dream as a kid with his dad about being on the paintline when he went to school at UGA.
“Before I even came to UGA, my dad and I would watch and he would be like, ‘when you go to UGA you need to be one of those guys,’” said McMillian.
McMillian grew up in Eatonton, Georgia, about 50 miles from Athens where UGA football was second only to Jesus. Saturdays were devoted to Georgia football but they served as a way to unite Jake’s family. “It really always has been a bonding experience for our family. Our Saturdays around the TV, dad always grilling or frying something for the games and enjoying that with our family. It’s something that no matter what direction we go…it always draws us back together,” said McMillian.
Just like Saturdays were for football, Sundays were for church. Jake’s father led a congregation as a pastor, so church was not just what they did as a family but it made up a lot of their identity as a family.
Life now for Mcmillian is similar to how he grew up. Saturdays are still devoted to the Dawgs and Sundays are still devoted to church. Only now, Mcmillian stands on the front row of the student section for game days then stands on the stage in front of his students the next day.
Student life for college students can be overwhelming, especially when there are more responsibilities than just class and homework.
At the start of 2021, McMillian got married to Carson. In a text message about their busy life, Jake’s wife describes the rhythm of their life.
“His involvements definitely make life a rollercoaster, but in a great way! Many times, we are
very busy, bouncing from one event to the next. However, it is always worth going to see how
God uses Jake to minister to the students and help them grow them into Godly young men and women,” said Jake’s wife, Carson McMillian
This added responsibility has proven to be helpful for McMillian’s ministry because many of his students love to see their pastor on the jumbotron and on TV. For McMillian and the Paint Line, serving the community and representing their faith well is important.
Representation is not just about community outreach for McMillian and his members. They care about what the students at UGA know about them as well. “Who’s that coming down the track” is a popular chant for games. The chant typically says “there’s nothing finer in the land than a drunk obnoxious Georgia fan.” The Paint Line, alternatively shouts back “Jesus loving Georgia fan” instead of “drunk obnoxious…”.
This chant that the team adapted demonstrates their commitment to introducing Jesus into all aspects of the team.
“What I hear students in our student ministry say, I’d love to go to UGA and be a part of the Paint Line” said Alexander “It speaks more than just painting up for a ballgame. It really, it speaks of them wanting to be that kind of Christ follower because they know Jake and they see his life.”