McKenzie Milton is shooting for a 2020 return to the football field.
The Central Florida quarterback is rehabbing from the awful knee injury he suffered against South Florida in the final game of the 2018 season. Milton suffered a dislocated knee and also suffered nerve damage when he went down while carrying the ball.
The severity of the knee injury means that Milton will almost certainly spend the 2019 season watching from the sidelines. He said Monday that if he’s ready to return in 2020, he will. But he also doesn’t want to rush a comeback.
“That’s what I’m hoping for, but if that’s not in my best-case scenario, if I don’t feel like I’m ready to come back at that point, then I won’t,” Milton said via the Orlando Sentinel. “I’ll take as much time as I need because I want to play at a certain level where I was at or if not better. I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice if I came back and wasn’t completely ready to play. I don’t think that’s smart.”
Believe it or not, Milton said his knee injury could have been worse and said his most recent surgery was two months ago.
“The injury has pretty much been best-case scenario,” he said. “I only tore two of the four ligaments. Usually when you dislocate your knee you tear everything. So that was a blessing in itself. It’s going to be a long slow process, but I think all things considered I’ll make a full recovery and get back on the field.”
Milton was eighth in the Heisman voting in 2017 as UCF went undefeated and ended up beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl. He was completing 59 percent of his passes and had 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions when he was injured in 2018.
UCF is preparing for life without Milton in 2019
Darriel Mack replaced Milton against South Florida and started in the AAC title game and Fiesta Bowl. He’s going to compete against former Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush for the team’s starting job. Wimbush, who was Notre Dame’s starter at the beginning of the 2018 season, transferred to UCF in the offseason.
As a graduate transfer, he’s immediately eligible.
UCF coach Josh Heupel said Wimbush has grown as a passer in his time at UCF. Passing was Wimbush’s weakness at Notre Dame; he was benched in favor of Ian Book.
"His physical skill set fits some of the things that we want to do,” Heupel said of Wimbush. He wanted an opportunity to have an open quarterback battle, come in and compete and go win a job. He's handled himself in a great way since he got here on campus. He's earned the respect of the guys around him. On both sides of the football, offensively and defensively. He's gotten better every single day out here."
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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