McKenzie Milton

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WATCH: UCF QB McKenzie Milton throwing passes in spring practice

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UCF quarterback Mckenzie Milton continues to recover from a devastating leg injury suffered at the end of the 2018 season. On Wednesday, the star quarterback of the Knights was shown dropping back and throwing passes. Considering where the potential outlook initially looked for Milton less than two years ago, this was a milestone worth cherishing.

Milton changed to a more mobile knee brace in late January, suggesting a scene like this was becoming realistic.

Milton was injured in the regular-season finale against USF in 2018. The gruesome injury not only tore Milton’s knee apart but also severely damaged nerves in Milton’s leg. Milton has undergone multiple surgeries since the injury and is still in for a long process.

Milton walked with UCF’s seniors during a senior day ceremony last season but he has still kept his eyes locked on a potential return to the football field in the future. Milton previously said he had a goal of playing football in 2020. Milton has stressed he will not push playing in 2020 if he has any lingering concerns about his abilities, but images like this leave you to be fascinated with the continued progress of Milton’s rehab.

It is important to remember that throwing passes in non-contact drills in March is a much different situation than reading defenses and avoiding pressure to get a pass off in a live game in the fall. But for at least today, Milton and UCF have reason to feel optimistic about the future.

UCF QB McKenzie Milton moving to more mobile knee brace

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UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton is about to take one giant step forward in his ongoing recovery from a serious knee injury that ended his 2018 season. Milton is finally set to transition from a bulky knee brace to one that is lighter and more mobile. Considering the severity of the injury Milton suffered, this is a significant step forward in the rehab process.

Milton’s mother shared an encouraging update on her son’s progress on Wednesday celebrating the idea her son was on his last day wearing the bulky brace. McKenzie later addressed the news to confirm he was moving to a more mobile knee brace.

Milton was injured in the regular-season finale against USF in 2018. The gruesome injury not only tore Milton’s knee apart but also severely damaged nerves in Milton’s leg. Milton has undergone multiple surgeries since the injury and is clearly still in for a long process.

Milton walked with UCF’s seniors during a senior day ceremony last season but he has still kept his eyes locked on a potential return to the football field in the future. Milton previously said he had a goal of playing football in 2020. How realistic of a goal that is at this point is probably unknown for sure, but it is good to know he is taking steps forward to feeling like an athlete again.

Helmet sticker to The Orlando Sentinel.

UCF QB McKenzie Milton released from hospital after fifth surgery on right knee

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With all of the quarterback transfer news flooding the headlines this past month, it might have been easy to forget that UCF has their own little offseason quarterback story to pay attention to. After completing his fifth surgery to repair damage to his right knee from the regular season finale last fall, McKenzie Milton has been released from the hospital and is now beginning the arduous rehab process.

Milton’s mother shared the latest update on Milton’s progress on Sunday via Twitter, saying the star UCF quarterback was being released from the hospital after a successful surgical procedure.

Milton’s latest surgery was to focus on improving nerve activity in the right knee. It still remains unknown when or if Milton will return to play for the Knights in 2019, although Milton is clearly not ready to suggest it to be off the table. Perhaps to play it as safe as possible, UCF is already embracing the possibility of not having Milton back for the 2019 season. During this offseason, UCF added former Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush to the roster via transfer. Wimbush is a graduate transfer, which makes him available to play right away this fall. If Milton is not able to be a part of the plan for UCF this season, Wimbush would likely take over as the starting quarterback.

Milton has passed for 8,683 yards and 72 touchdowns in his past three years at UCF, including the last two seasons as the starting quarterback without losing a single game. Milton has finished in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting each of the past two seasons and will be difficult to replace in terms of productivity for UCF’s offense. Although the rehab process for him will certainly keep him out of action this spring, there could still be a chance a rehabbing Milton potentially gets on the field in the fall, even if late in the year or for a bowl game.

No. 9 UCF remains undefeated but loss of QB Milton clouds outlook moving forward

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For the second straight year, No. 9 UCF (11-0, 8-0 AAC) will enter the AAC Championship Game without a loss on their record, putting them one win away from a likely trip to a New Years Six bowl game. The Knights finished off their regular season with a clean 11-0 record after securing a 38-10 win on the road against South Florida (7-5, 3-5 AAC) on Friday. The win, the 24th straight for the program, came at a price for UCF, however, as starting quarterback McKenzie Milton suffered what appeared to be a severe leg injury in the first half that required him to be carted off the field for further medical treatment.

Coming off the bench to lead the offense for UCF in the absence of Milton was Darriel Mack Jr., but the Knights could get by with the running game and a strong defensive effort to carry the load. Greg McRae rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns to power UCF past the Bulls. As a team, UCF rushed for 325 yards. McCrae’s third touchdown run, a 31-yard run, essentially slammed the door shut on South Florida after Charlie Strong made a puzzling decision to punt away from the USF 43-yard line on 4th & 1 with USF trailing 24-10 in the fourth quarter. Four plays later came McCrae’s long touchdown run. UCF outscored South Florida 14-0 in the fourth quarter and 21-7 after halftime.

Milton’s injury was severe enough to prevent him from returning to the game, but there was no updated on his status moving forward. However, odds are he will not be available next week for the conference championship game. As such, how UCF fares without their MVP quarterback in the near future will be scrutinized heavily as UCF is sitting in position to not only compete for a chance to play in a big bowl game, but how this potentially impacts their standing in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee should a few breaks open things up for UCF down the line. But in order for that to matter, UCF has one more game to win first.

South Florida played the entire game without Blake Barnett, who was banged up himself. That led the Bulls to split the duties between Chris Oladokun and Brett Kean, but neither was able to spark the South Florida offense against a determined UCF defensive effort. Running back Johnny Ford had 16 carries for 120 yards, but that was the highlight of the offense for the Bulls. South Florida was stooped twice on fourth downs, including one at the UCF three-yard line that was followed by a 97-yard UCF touchdown drive in the first half. Getting stuffed twice on fourth down may have led Strong to decide to settle for a field goal deep in UCF territory in the second quarter when a touchdown would have been much more important.

UCF will host Memphis in the AAC Championship Game next weekend in Orlando. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday, Dec. 1. The game will be a rematch of last year’s AAC Championship Game, won by UCF by a score of 62-55 in double overtime, and an earlier regular season meeting this year in Memphis won by UCF 31-30. A win by UCF next week at home will likely send UCF back to a New Years Six bowl, which would make the Knights the first Group of Five team to make consecutive New Years Six bowl trips in the College Football Playoff era.

South Florida will slump their way into the postseason after ending the season on a five-game losing skid. But the Bulls have enough wins to go to a bowl game, which will be determined at a later time.

UCF loses McKenzie Milton but leads South Florida at halftime

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If UCF is going to finish off another regular season without a loss, they will do so from here on out without quarterback McKenzie Milton. Milton was carted off the field with his right leg in a cast on his way off the field with what appeared to be a devastating injury early in the second quarter. But UCF owns a 17-3 lead on South Florida in Tampa as this game shifts to a battle of backup quarterbacks.

South Florida is playing without Blake Barnett in the offense, instead going with Chris Oladokun and Brett Kean splitting the snaps as Barnett is banged up. In the absence of Milton, UCF is continuing on offense with Darriel Mack. Milton will not return to the game.

South Florida had a great opportunity to strike first in the first quarter but the Bulls failed to capitalize. Nick Roberts intercepted a pass from UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton and returned the football to the UCF 12-yard line. But the Bulls offense could not do anything with the red zone possession. Johnny Ford was handed the football on four straight plays, and the drive stalled at the UCF 3-yard line with a fourth-down stop by the Knights.

That was a problem for South Florida because UCF then marched quickly down the field for a 97-yard touchdown drive fueled by Milton through the air and Adrian Killins on the ground. A sideline catch by Gabriel Davis for a gain of 38 yards was the highlight of the drive, and Davis scored a touchdown on a free play on an offside penalty by South Florida.

Shortly after Milton was carted off the field, UCF extended the lead to 10-0 with a field goal off the leg of Matthew Wright. A 40-yard touchdown run by Greg McCrae later in the second quarter gave UCF a 17-0 lead.

Even without Milton, the UCF offense is still a stiff challenge for South Florida to figure out at the half. But the Bulls need to figure out how to crack the UCF defense first for any of that to mean anything after halftime.