McKenzie Milton has only been in Tallahassee for two weeks but he is quickly becoming the most high-profile player on the Florida State roster. Milton met with the media for the first time on Friday in a virtual press conference that was attended by about 20 members of the media, including several from national new outlets, to discuss his transfer to FSU.
The former UCF star quarterback said the process of choosing FSU didn’t take very long.
“The possibilities came up shortly after I put my name in the transfer portal,” Milton said about the short courtship. “Coach (Kenny) Dillingham and Coach (Mike) Norvell reached out to me. Immediately, I was intrigued by the opportunity. Playing against Coach (Norvell) and just knowing what this school is all about, and the support systems they have here, it’s second-to-none. I think it only took about a week for me to decide that this is the right place for me. There were a few other schools that garnered interest. I’m not going to really speak on those schools because I don’t want it to seem like those schools aren’t good enough, because those are great universities in their own respects. But this just felt right for me and my family, and that’s why I chose Florida State.”
Milton threw for 8,683 yards, 72 touchdowns and 22 interceptions from 2016-18 at UCF before suffering a brutal knee injury against USF late in the 2018 season. He has spent much of his time rehabilitating before tunning the UCF’s scout team last fall.
FSU’s brand and reputation played a factor, Milton said, as well as the knowledge of his new coach.
“Just seeing the logo, it kind of speaks for itself,” said Milton. “And competing against Coach Norvell while he was at Memphis, just seeing the way they ran their offense and the way he had control of their team. Just seeing the way he carried himself as a coach. And then knowing what this program is all about, what this university is all about, is kind of a no-brainer for me.
“Shoot, it’s just something that you dream about as a kid, playing at a school like this,” continued Milton. “Just the people that have come before me, everyone who’s been here. Coach Bobby Bowden, Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Jameis Winston. Now, Jalen Ramsey. Guys like that. Just the history. It’s second-to-none in my opinion and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.”
Despite playing against Norvell’s Memphis teams three times, Milton had only met Norvell once before arriving in Tallahassee last week.
“The only time I think I ever met him was at the AAC media days going into the 2018 season,” Milton said when asked about his new coach. “I kind of shook his hand. Both (of us) have mutual respect for each other and we kind of knew we’d play each other in the regular season and then our paths typically led to the conference championship. I knew what he was about as a coach and his program. He ran a great program at Memphis.”
Milton believes Norvell will find similar success at FSU.
“I’m confident that he’ll have a similar if not better success here at Florida State in just creating a winning culture,” Milton said. … “That was the only time I met him. And then when I got hurt, him and his whole team actually signed a ball for me, which I thought was a pretty cool gesture. Coach Norvell is a class act. Just doing something like that when I was down bad and they were our opponent the upcoming week after I got hurt. Him and his whole team, they signed a ball as a gesture of respect, I guess, for the battles. At the end of the day, football is one community. You’re not always rivals and stuff like that. Sure enough, we’re teammates now. He’s my coach and I look forward to continuing to grow that relationship with him and the rest of the staff here.”
Milton was asked to evaluate his recovering from the knee injury.
“I’d say I’m about 90 percent, still pushing to get to 100,” Milton said. “I feel like playing football you’re never truly at 100 percent anyways. I’m still trying to get, range of motion is close, but it’s not quite there. But it’s functional and it’s where it needs to be in order to play. So I’m fully cleared in that aspect. I still want to keep pushing it to where I’m completely comfortable out there. Just being able to do things I want to do on the football field.”
FSU’s newest signal caller says he has come a long way in the last 12 months in his comeback bid.
“A year ago, I wasn’t running or jumping or anything like that,” said Milton. “Six months ago, I probably just started running, training. Three months ago, I was full practicing, running scout team… feeling really good and just getting better each day. Literally, each day I felt better and better out there, more comfortable running, jumping, cutting, sprinting, just getting more live bullets of seeing defenses and anticipating throws. Personally, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do on a football field that I would want to do. But I still have eight more months to continue to strengthen everything in my body from the top down.
“That just excites me because, like I said, I feel like I could go out and play right now, but I know in eight months, I’ll be feeling lights out and ready to go attack ACC play, help this team pursue what we want to pursue.”
Milton also anticipates going through spring practice and is looking forward to the 2021 season.
“Yeah, I expected to be fully cleared and to compete in the spring,” said Milton. “I flew up to Minnesota on Monday to check up with my doctor, and he said, ‘Go play ball, KZ.’ I’m super excited to compete with these guys and other QBs and help each other take our game to the next level. I feel great, I feel ready to go. If we had to play this weekend, I feel like I could go. I just know come Sept. 5, when we play against Notre Dame, I will be feeling even better. Super excited about it.”
In the meantime he is looking forward to developing relationships off the field and building chemistry on it with his new teammates.
“If it has to be extra film work with teammates, or getting extra work after practices, you gotta build that chemistry as it just doesn’t happen overnight,” said Milton. “You can’t do it in spring and fall camp and expect it to just click. So we gotta put in extra work with each other, and I’ve already started to do that, and we will continue down that path. At the same time, we have to be smart about taking care of our bodies. It just isn’t in the football building, we gotta build the relationships outside of it. Going to dinner, lunch, birthdays, catching a movie, barbecues, whatever. That’s what it is all about. I reminisce about the great times I had with my teammates. My favorite moments were outside of the playing field, and I feel like it will be the same here.”
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