TAMPA, Fla. – Speculation swirled ahead of the Knight’s rivalry game against the University of South Florida that it could also mark the awaited comeback for the University of Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton but fans will have to keep waiting.
No. 10 Milton stepped onto the field at Raymond James Stadium Friday afternoon for warm-ups but wasn’t wearing pads like the rest of the quarterbacks. Ahead of the 3:30 p.m. kickoff, sources confirmed to News 6 Sports Director Jamie Seh Friday’s game won’t make Milton’s come back.
UCF came out on top 58-46 marking the Knight’s fourth straight win against the Bulls and evening the I-4 rivalry to 6-6.
Milton, a senior majoring in sports and exercise science, returned to practice in August with clearance from his doctors.
In response to why he didn’t suit up for the game, Milton said in a statement he didn’t “see the point in going out there today for sentimental reasons,” adding “I don’t want to go out there until 100 percent and playing at a high level. So there’s no rush for me to get back out there on the field.”
Milton said he plans to return when he’s 100% but as of Friday wasn’t there yet.
After suffering a gruesome injury during the “War on I-4″ game nearly two years ago, many have questioned whether Milton would ever play again but the redshirt senior has been making progress toward his goal of once again taking the field.
Milton was carted off the field Nov. 23, 2018, with a dislocated right knee after being tackled during a game against South Florida.
“I definitely knew something was bad right away,” Milton told News 6 in 2019, a few months after the injury. “I’m just grateful USF’s trainer was the first one out there. That’s our rival school, but he knew something was bad.”
He was rushed to the hospital where doctors worked to save his leg. Milton had several surgeries to repair damaged nerves and restore blood flow to his lower leg before beginning extensive rehabilitation.
In an interview with ESPN recently Milton revealed in July he woke up to pain in his kneed and was unable to walk. He had to undergo immediate surgery for an infection, reports ESPN.
Throughout his recovery, he said his goal was to return to playing by 2020. During a March interview, he said playing this year was a 50/50 shot.
However, Milton told News 6 he was confident he would return to play at the Bounce House again.
“When that moment comes, and I definitely think it will, I’m going to soak it in,” Milton said in May. “But after that, it’s going to be time to roll.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this season doesn’t count toward college football players’ eligibility. Milton could have another year to play for UCF if he chooses.