UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton has made tremendous strides as he continues his rehabilitation from a catastrophic knee injury that nearly cost him his leg in 2018. While most people associated with the Knights football program believe Milton’s return to the football field is inevitable, don’t expect it to happen soon.
UCF coach Josh Heupel ruled out Milton, of Mililani, Oahu, for the season opener against Georgia Tech Saturday in Atlanta and the foreseeable future.
“McKenzie won’t play in this football game here and realistically the first couple weeks of the season,” Heupel said. “He’s continuing to do more and more out at practice. His heath is continuing to get better. He’s throwing with our guys and moving around the pocket and doing those types of things. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable.”
Milton’s spent the past 22 months recovering from a horrific knee injury he suffered during the Knights’ 2018 regular-season finale against USF at Raymond James Stadium. He had emergency surgery at Tampa General Hospital to repair damaged nerves and restore blood flow to his lower right leg. The injury nearly forced doctors to amputate his leg.
He was in a wheelchair or on crutches for the first five months following the surgery and it wasn’t until earlier this year that doctors cleared him to ditch a restrictive brace for a less bulky one that allowed him to increase his physical activities.
In August, Milton’s mother said the quarterback was entering a “new phase of recovery” following a visit with his doctor at the Mayo Clinic. She posted videos of him running, doing lateral slides and putting full weight on his knee.
Sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who is also from Mililani, said his mentor and friend is looking good.
“I was away from him the whole quarantine. I got to see him before I left, but when I came back, he’s a whole different dude,” Gabriel said. “He’s starting to get some muscles on him and he’s starting to look like the old KZ.
“So, I know it’s not a matter of if but fit’s a matter of when.”
Murschel writes for the Orlando Sentinel