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Milton Brings Remarkable Resume to Noles

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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McKenzie Milton earned national acclaim at UCF. He has now earned his way back.

It's truly remarkable, all that McKenzie Milton has accomplished.

The former UCF superstar, now with Florida State, has 8,653 career passing yards and 72 career passing touchdowns, 1,078 rushing yards and 20 more rushing scores. He, as the only two-time AAC Offensive Player of the Year ever, ranked in the top ten nationally in passer rating in both 2017 and 2018, trailing only Baker Mayfield his sophomore season in the year Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy and set a new single season passer rating record for college football. That fall, Milton won the Archie Griffin Award, given to the national MVP.  

Oh, Milton also won a national championship in that 2017 season, a title officially recognized by the NCAA.

Milton, boasting a 27-6 all-time record as a starter, led the Golden Knights to a perfect 12-0 record three years ago, finishing the season with a triumph over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl; Milton threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns, ran for 116 yards and another score and was named Offensive MVP. Before the showdown in New Orleans, UCF promptly topped Memphis, then coached by FSU's Mike Norvell, in the AAC Championship Game; Milton threw for 494 yards and five touchdowns, ran for another score and was named Game MVP.

Norvell knows the type of player he has signed in Milton. He actually saw the quarterback three times with the Tigers, with Milton compiling 1,188 total yards, eleven total touchdowns and pacing his team to 133 total points and three wins in those three games. Long before Norvell recruited Milton, he was helplessly chasing him. Now the second-year head coach in Tallahassee has college football's most storied signal caller on his side.

The fact that Milton has returned to the field is absolutely incredible. He, late in the 2018 season, suffered a devastating and dangerous knee injury that resulted in a dislocation and significant damage to his arteries and nerves. Doctors preformed emergency surgery to restore blood flow, a process which required the transfer of a vein from Milton's healthy leg to his injured one. After more procedures, he then had reconstructive knee surgery in January of 2019. Surgeries still followed, along with an infection which slowed Milton's recovery.

An unfathomable process, with grueling rehabilitation, was Milton's path back to some sense of normalcy. Stunningly, he resumed football activities in 2020 and actually worked as Central Florida's scout team quarterback last season. Milton's persistence is a testament to his passion. Beyond any physical measures, Milton's dedication and toughness are completely off the charts. His efforts continue to amaze and inspire.  

You could call Milton a walking miracle, but he is in an all-out sprint. Literally and figuratively, Milton is off and running. 

Few quarterbacks in the history of the game have a legacy quite like Milton's. He helped UCF win 24 consecutive games, totaling eleven 300-yard passing performances and 19 multi-score outings in that span. Milton actually hasn't lost a game since 2016. Just eight quarterbacks this millennium have had a season with a passer rating of at least 175 and 45 total touchdowns: Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts, Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa, Kyle Trask and Milton. Only Burrow and Milton, of that group, went undefeated.

Milton joining Florida State has the potential to be a true game-changer, one of the stories of the year in college football. He gives the Seminoles a player with unparalleled credentials. Just one ACC quarterback the past 20 years, perhaps longer, has had a season with a passer rating of at least 160, 25 passing touchdowns, 9.2 yards per attempt and eight rushing scores, Tajh Boyd in 2013; Milton has done it twice. His 179.29 passer rating from 2017 would be the league's second-highest mark ever after Jameis Winston in Florida State's most-recent national championship-winning season.

As spring practice opens in Tallahassee, Milton is fully cleared. His experience and success can be a foundational piece for the Seminoles this off-season and this fall.

Looking ahead, the first game for Milton in garnet-and-gold will be a showdown with nationally-ranked Notre Dame on Sunday evening in Tallahassee. Expect the veteran to embrace the challenge. Over his final two years at UCF, Milton averaged 326 yards passing with 17 passing touchdowns compared to just five interceptions, adding four rushing scores, in five meetings with ranked competition, all wins. In a three-game stretch to end the famed 2017 season, Milton's Knights scored 145 total points against ranked foes South Florida, Memphis and Auburn.   

Already, Milton, with experience nobody else in the game has, is making an impact with his new team. He joins Jordan Travis, a dynamic talent who was arguably the MVP for the Seminoles in 2020, former highly-touted recruit Chubba Purdy and last year's top reserve Tate Rodemaker on the Florida State depth chart. The national spotlight is now back on Milton, who has been cleared to play immediately. Expect his continued story to be followed with great fanfare and anticipation. 

Simply put, Milton may be college football's most accomplished player. As he settles in post-transition, he does so ready for more. Milton is eager to help lead Florida State forward, just as he did for UCF a few years prior. The track record is clearly there; so, too, is the motivation. Next comes the opportunity. As perhaps the face of his new program, Milton has a chance to add to the quarterback legacy at a place where Heisman winners Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Winston all starred. There is a special tradition at FSU; Milton is ready to add to it.   

Milton earned national acclaim at UCF. He has now earned his way back. Florida State is the future for Milton. Hawaii to Orlando to Tallahassee, this is a story that should come with a script.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports