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McKenzie Milton
NFL Draft

McKenzie Milton’s Journey Back To Football Far From Over

  • Crissy Froyd
  • January 26, 2022
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One of the first things that usually come up when McKenzie Milton’s name is mentioned is the gruesome leg injury he suffered late in the 2018 season when his right leg almost had to be amputated when he took a big hit that caused extensive damage. But that’s a thing of the past now as Milton prepares for the next stage of his career, recently declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft. And what’s perhaps even more important to remember is not just the adversity he faced from such a life-altering injury, but just how dynamic of a quarterback he showed he was before it happened, appearing in the Heisman Trophy conversation on multiple occasions. 2017 was a standout season for him with the Knights, when he completed more than 67% of his passes for more than 4,000 passing yards with 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions to go with more than 600 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. After recovering from the injury, Milton continued his career at Florida State—a school that had some issues of its own beyond the quarterback position on its way to building a more competitive program. Milton saw action in six games for the Seminoles, completing 58.3% of his passes with three touchdowns and six interceptions in that time, ending off his college career with a 61.3% completion percentage, 9,458 passing yards, 75 touchdowns, and 28 interceptions on 1,159 passing attempts—he also had more than 1,000 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Milton’s still confident in what he brings to the table with the ability to perform at a high level as a passer with a good amount of mobility and ability to evade pressure—that’s something that’s evident in the film you pull from UCF and from the action he did see at FSU. “I really truly do believe that I put out quality film in terms of showing what scouts want to see—anticipation, throwing into tight windows, and then getting in and out of protection calls and stuff like that,” Milton said. “I still have that it factor where I can ad-lib and make plays, and be able to operate in high-pressure situations. I believe you have to be able to do that in today’s NFL. I believe I bring a strong leadership mentality in the locker room, being a three-year starter and trading time this year—understanding it’s not always going to be the way you want it to be. I learned a lot having to swallow my pride a little bit with not always being in the field.” Milton also found great value in what he learned off the field, using it to do things that would help him get better on it—depending on how you look at it, Milton is ahead of a lot of quarterbacks from the mental aspect because of the way he took advantage of being sidelined, as odd as that may initially sound. “Looking at the reality of my situation, the odds are slim that I’m going to be a Day 1 starter—I’m going to have to go out and earn it,” Milton said. “And I feel like what I’ve been through this past year has taught me a lot in that aspect. “Having two years on the sideline, just learning like what goes into game planning. As a quarterback, you're kind of involved in it, but I took a step back and was involved in it a little differently, essentially I was kind of a GA for two years during rehab at UCF, so I was more heavily involved. I was on the headset and would attend defensive meetings a lot to pick their brains on just different side of the ball type of stuff. With that, I feel like my football IQ has improved. I still have room to grow for sure as a player just getting back in the rhythm of playing after being out for so long. But I just kind of feel like this year was really good for me to just get my feet back wet and just get back into a rhythm of playing.” Milton is currently training with Bert Whigham, formerly of Tom Shaw Performance, and quarterbacks coach Steve Calhoun ahead of the draft and is looking forward to showing what he can do at both Florida State’s and UCF’s Pro Days on March 29 and April 1, respectively. I’m looking forward to showing the scouts what they want to see and hopefully getting an opportunity,” Milton said. “I know the reality—that I had a bad injury and that can make some teams wary. But I’m moving around well and feel like I’ve shown that. I’m going to keep progressing one day at a time. I don’t feel like it’s an overnight thing to be back at an elite level right after something like this, it truly does take time but I feel like I’m in a good spot.” In endeavors outside of football, Milton has partnered with Outkast NFT on an NIL deal and has taken an interest in both cryptocurrency and what athletes can accomplish for themselves and others in the NIL era. “I’m super excited about what the future holds with cryptocurrency and NFTs in general. I really feel like that’ll be a big part of the future in the landscape of how things are owned and operated,” Milton said. “I also helped found an NIL company called Dream Field where we have made NFTs for myself and D’Eriq King and it’s definitely something we’re interested in doing more of… getting athletes exposure and just doing more over time.” Regardless of where Milton lands, teams will be getting a well-rounded individual that has a knack for making big things happen on and off the field and is a walking illustration of bouncing back and overcoming no matter how grim things get or how tough the circumstances appear.

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Crissy Froyd