Reflecting on Memphis-UCF games, Norvell sees Milton’s competitive fire

Mike Norvell had a front-row seat for what McKenzie Milton could do on the football field. In 2017, UCF won a regular season and conference championship game against Memphis.

Milton threw five touchdowns and ran for another as UCF pulled off a 62-55 win in the AAC title game, just one example of their matchups through the years.

“He’s someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for,” Norvell said on Tuesday. “Competed against him for a few years back at Memphis. Have a lot of friends in the coaching profession who’ve been around him. Even more than what he does on the field on game day, just the person he is, the competitor that he is, the importance of teammates, the importance of doing things to a very high standard in all aspects. So when he made that decision and we could make contact, reached out to him to see what interested, kind of some of the things he was looking for, because for us, it’s all about finding the right fit for Florida State and what we’re doing moving forward.

“I think he has a great deal of talent mentally and physically, and I think he’ll be a tremendous asset to this team and this program. I loved his mentality and perspective and willingness and readiness to compete. He has some things he’s going to have to continue to do in his progression, but he’s very excited about the opportunity. I think it’s a great fit in both aspects, really on both sides, and we’re excited about what the future holds.”

Milton threw for 8,683 yards, 72 touchdowns and 22 interceptions from 2016-18 at UCF. He suffered a brutal knee injury and spent time in the hospital as doctors repaired nerve and artery damage in November 2018 but has worked hard for the last two years to get back on the field.

Norvell said he weighed the decision of adding a graduate transfer quarterback and the impact he would have on the team but also the current group of quarterbacks: Jordan Travis, Chubba Purdy and Tate Rodemaker.

“They understand that we’re always going to try to enhance our team,” Norvell said. “Whether it’s a transfer, whether it’s a high school player. Being able to talk through it to our quarterbacks and what it’s going to mean, the opportunity that’s in front of us, the value I think it brings to our football team, our guys I think received it really well. They’re excited about what that can mean to our program. You look at right now, we’ve got three quarterbacks who are all sophomores or younger.”

Without going into detail, Norvell said FSU’s doctors were able to review Milton’s medical history.

“Those are all things that were a part of the process as well,” Norvell said. “We’ve got a really good sense of where he is. When he’s here in person, we’re able to go through all that and we’ll continue to go through the procedures that we need to do when we get him here in person. But we’re very confident in what his future is and to the availability that he’ll have. He’s worked so very hard to put himself in this position. It speaks to his heart, it speaks to his passion for this game. He’s a tremendous young man and we’re excited about getting him here January and obviously helping him along through that process and getting him ready for this fall.”

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