McKenzie Milton was told by doctors three years ago that just walking again would be an achievement. He proved to be nothing short of determined, an inspiration to college football fans in the Sunshine State and all the way back home to Hawaii.
Milton and Clemson receiver Justyn Ross were co-recipients of the ACC’s Piccolo Award, which is given annually to the league’s most courageous football player and is named for the former Wake Forest and Chicago Bears running back.
Milton suffered a catastrophic right leg injury in Nov. 2018 while at UCF. Following eight medical procedures, Milton returned to run the Knights’ scout team in 2020 and transferred to FSU for the 2021 season.
“I am incredibly happy for McKenzie to be recognized with the Piccolo Award,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “He has displayed a tremendous amount of resilience, drive and competitive spirit throughout his long process of returning to play football. McKenzie made an unbelievable investment to reach his goal even when the odds were firmly against him.
“He is a great teammate, and his character and leadership have made a profound impact on our program. We are so proud McKenzie is part of our Seminole Family.”
In six games, Milton completed 81 of 139 passes for 775 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.
Milton is FSU’s seventh recipient of the Piccolo Award, joining Dan Footman in 1992, Sam Cowart in 1997, Corey Simon in 1998, Chris Weinke in 1999, Anquan Boldin in 2002 and Chris Thompson in 2012.
Jacobs Blocking Trophy
OT Ikem Ekwonu claimed the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is presented to the league’s top offensive lineman.
Ekwonu, a sophomore from Charlotte, N.C., is a finalist for the Outland Trophy and has been ranked as the top run blocker in college football by Pro Football Focus. He has tallied a team-leading 67 pancake blocks and 18 knockdowns for the Wolfpack.
A two-time ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week this season, Ekwonu and the Wolfpack rank 19th nationally in passing offense at 288.4 yards per game – 11th among Power 5 schools. In 829 snaps this season, the 6-4, 320-pound Ekwonu has allowed just two sacks from his left tackle position and has consistently been the high-grader on the Wolfpack offensive line.
Clay Shiver, Tra Thomas, Tarlos Thomas, Brett Williams, Rodney Hudson, Cameron Erving and Roderick Johnson are FSU’s winners of the Jacobs Trophy. Shiver, Williams, Hudson, Erving and Johnson were two-time recipients.
Wake Forest offensive lineman Zach Tom won the Tatum Award. The award is given annually in memory of the late Jim Tatum to the top senior student-athlete among the league’s football players. Tatum, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, coached in the 1950s at both Maryland and North Carolina and believed strongly in the concept of the student-athlete.
Tom, who has a 3.76 career GPA, was named a 2021 ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Recipient after completing his undergraduate degree in Business and Enterprise Management with Cum Laude honors last spring. He has been an All-ACC Academic Team member each of the past two seasons while also earning ACC Academic Honor Roll honors during all four years in Winston-Salem. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Business, becoming just the second Wake Forest football student-athlete to enroll in the MBA program.
Daryl Bush (1996), David Castillo (2005) and Christian Ponder (2010) are FSU’s winners of the Tatum Award.
The All-ACC teams will be announced on Tuesday at 9 a.m. on the ACC Network.