Florida State will open spring practice Tuesday with a healthy McKenzie Milton. The former UCF star quarterback has been “fully cleared” to participate after recovering from a horrific knee injury that has sidelined him for the past two seasons, Seminoles coach Mike Norvell said Friday.
“He looks great,” Norvell said.
Milton was one of the best players in the country from 2017-18, finishing in the top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting both years while being named the offensive player of the year in the AAC. He passed for 8,683 yards and rushed for 1,078 with the Knights while accounting for 92 touchdowns (72 passing, 20 rushing).
But he hasn’t played since getting hit at USF in 2018, damaging an artery and nerves in the process.
Milton hasn’t played since then but did participate on the scout team at UCF. As the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hawaii native recovered, his replacement, Dillon Gabriel, blossomed into the nation’s leading passer, prompting Milton’s transfer to FSU this offseason.
Since arriving in Tallahassee, Milton has participated in offseason conditioning drills, although FSU will continue to monitor his health. Norvell said his new quarterback has impressed in the weight room and has changed direction well.
“It’s been remarkable watching him,” Norvell said.
The best-case scenario for Milton and the ’Noles is that he plays the way he did at UCF, sparking a turnaround in Norvell’s second season. At minimum, he’s providing veteran guidance to a quarterback room that has eight career starts (excluding his) and features two redshirt freshmen and a redshirt sophomore.
Although the Seminoles haven’t been around for his entire recovery, his teammates know enough to see him as an inspiration during workouts.
“Even if they only understand the tip of the iceberg of what it really took, the tip of that iceberg is still big and significant,” said Josh Storms, FSU’s director of football strength and conditioning. “Those guys see that, and that kind of builds an automatic level of respect. A guy who’s been through a hard road and you see where he’s brought himself … man, that’s something everybody can learn from — players included, coaches included, staff included.”