McKenzie Milton is the definition of overcomer. I see a lot of him in me, that is why I cheer for him as much as I do. The three star-quarterback born and raised in Kapolei, Hawaii. He would end up being a three-star dual threat quarterback at Mililani High School. He would have several offers, but Scott Frost and UCF won him over.
As you know, Marcus Mariota was one of the best quarterbacks ever to play in Hawaii, and McKenzie idolized him. When Mariota went to Oregon, his offensive coordinator was Scott Frost, and I am sure that helped a little bit!
Frost would end up becoming the head coach at UCF and the rest is history. McKenzie would end up leading UCF to a 6-6 season as a Freshman. The year before UCF was 0-12, and by his Sophomore year McKenzie led the Knights to a 12-0 regular season, winning the AAC. Milton would end up winning the AAC offensive player of the year.
Milton was 8th in the Heisman voting in 2017, after an amazing season. But everything changed on November 23, 2018.
UCF player the last game of the regular season against South Florida. In the second quarter of the game, Milton ran a belly option to the right and was tackled by two USF players including Mazzi Wilkins which caused him to dislocate his knee. It was one of the most gruesome injuries in NCAA history. Emergency surgery was required to restore the arterial blood flow and a vein was removed of of his left leg and transferred to his right leg to restore blood flow to that limb. That is a very crucial injury, but that was not enough to stop the young Milton.
Milton would reveal that he had to undergo a second surgery as well but was walking by the late spring in 2019. Many thought the Alex Smith injury was brutal and the recovery was amazing, but Milton’s was just as impressive.
On December 13, 2020 two years after sitting out of football, Milton announced he would be transferring to Florida State.
In his first game back on September 5, 2021, he would return to play by helping Florida State get to overtime. He competed 5 of 7 passes for 48 yards and led the Seminoles on a 10-point deficit to get the game in overtime. While the Seminoles lost, it was exactly what I would have expected to happen.
Throughout his career, Milton has amassed 70 plus touchdowns and has thrown for over 8k yards. Many people write him off, but his faith and his ability to overcome amaze me. I am a fan, and I believe in him as a prospect.
NFL Draft Diamonds Scouting Notes:
Milton McKenzie possesses something that you cannot grade on film. He has heart! The young Hawaiian native is a fighter that never gave up on chasing his dreams. Many people when down will blame God for their situation, but Milton embraced God during his tragic event. That is why I relate to him. I was able to listen to McKenzie speak at the Better Man event and he encouraged me. When McKenzie met with Mazzi Wilkins to tell him he had no ill will from the hit, it broke me down. I broke my back in 1999, and while I did have ill will in my heart, I was able to lean on God. It is not easy for a young player to embrace the Lord. He has always been a football player, and a damn good one at that, but I am not willing to bet against any man that puts Jesus first. – Damond Talbot, Director of Scouting, Hula Bowl