Monday, June 27

What happened to McKenzie Milton? Quarterback returns to soccer after career-threatening knee injury

McKenzie Milton’s college football story is one many are familiar with: a painful story that put the quarterback’s career on hold indefinitely and, once it seemed, permanently.

His return to the soccer field, then, is the perfect confluence of everything sports fans love: endurance and hard work in the face of incredible adversity, all for a player who was at the top of his game and his career. apparently it was too short. too early.

Milton’s last game was on November 23, 2018, when he took the field in UCF’s season finale against South Florida. It would eventually be the last game he played for the Knights. After holding the ball in a zone reading option, Milton was spotted by two Bulls defenders who, in the act of tackling him, seriously injured their leg and knee. The play forever altered Milton’s career.

Now with Florida State, Milton could potentially take his first plays since that fateful play in Sunday’s 2021 season opener against Notre Dame. Coach Mike Norvell hasn’t named a starter at quarterback, but Milton’s presence on the field at any time during the season would be challenging despite conventional medical wisdom.

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Here’s a look at Milton’s comeback and what took him from a record run in Orlando to starting with a blank slate in Tallahassee.

What was McKenzie Milton’s injury?

Milton was evaluated on the field and, after UCF team doctor Mike Jablonski and athletic trainer Mary Vander Heiden reduced his knee, he was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery to save his right leg.

Dr. Bruce Levy, one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the United States who took over Milton’s case, told the Orlando Sentinel that he suffered a knee dislocation in the knee where the thigh bone and lower leg were completely dislocated; which caused a significant disruption to the blood flow in his leg. He also ruptured ligaments and some tendons, causing “no or very little nerve function” in his knee, according to Levy.

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A doctor He reportedly told Milton that nearly 50 percent of patients with similar injuries had to have their leg amputated. The damage was more severe than expected, and the doctors, including Levy, they weren’t sure if Milton would play soccer again.

“He had gone through all the college and NFL databases on previous players who had dislocated their knees,” Levy told the Sentinel. “And there are one or two who were able to play again, but none with this specific ligament, vascular and nerve injury.

“I told him, ‘Look, my immediate goal is to go through the surgery tomorrow and you still have your leg because if we injure the artery again, there is a possibility that you will end up with an amputation. So the goal is not. The first is to do the operation safely to maintain the leg. Goal # 2 is to give you a limb that you can walk on, that is stable and pain-free. Anything above that is unknown and in the hands of God “.

Milton Recovery Timeline

Six weeks after the initial surgery to save his leg, Milton faced several surgeries from Levy and his team to repair his knee. From the Sentinel:

Levy put together three surgical teams: one to handle the vascular side of things, another to repair the ligaments, and then a team to rebuild Milton’s, including repairing nerve damage.

For more than seven hours, Levy and his surgical teams worked tirelessly on Milton’s right knee.

Surgeons made a vein graft to create a new artery that provides blood flow to the leg using a piece of vein from the other side. Then the surgical teams were able to rebuild the ligaments around the knee joint, and eventually Levy had to rebuild the knee. “

The Sentinel reports that Levy also had a radiology team available during the surgery, who performed frequent ultrasounds on the leg to make sure the artery in the leg did not clot. After that, Milton rehabbed for five months while restricted to a wheelchair and later crutches.

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He suffered a setback in July 2019 when he contracted an infection, which required another surgery and prolonged his recovery six additional months.

Milton finally could play again in october 2020; he was included on the UCF roster, but did not play a game. Instead, he led the scout team’s offense. However, it was clear that he could play again, even if he couldn’t regain his position from starter Dillon Gabriel.

Why did Milton transfer to Florida?

Once Milton was finally cleared to play soccer again, he had the option of continuing to do so at UCF, opting for another Group of 5 school, or betting on himself and hoping his prolific offensive numbers at UCF would be enough to attract. a power. 5 program. He chose the latter, betting on himself and showing deference and respect towards Gabriel, who is one of Milton’s best friends.

He announced his decision to transfer on December 3, 2020 and, in a video posted on Twitter, said that the team was Gabriel’s. He added that he didn’t want to ruin any momentum that he or UCF might have had at that point in the season.

Meanwhile, Norvell, in his first year as the Seminoles coach, called Milton and persuaded him to play at Florida State as a transfer. His team was struggling as a quarterback and Norvell, who had trained against Milton several times while in Memphis, knew what he could bring to the position.

Just 10 days after Milton decided to transfer, announced his fate: ACC power and Florida State Sunshine Companion Program. He explained his decision why to ESPN:

“You see Florida State, the garnet and the gold, it speaks for itself,” Milton told ESPN. “The notoriety of the people who have passed by, Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Jameis Winston, speaks for itself. I am very grateful for the opportunity. It is something that I do not take for granted, especially since I have been during the last two years. It’s a very special opportunity, and I feel like we can make that change in the near future. “

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Timeline of McKenzie Milton’s return

November 23, 2018 – On a play of third and seven in the UCF season finale against the enemy in the state, the USF, Milton keeps the ball in a reading zone and injures his leg. They then took him to the hospital for emergency surgery.

End of November, beginning of December 2018 – Milton is released from the hospital and sees UCF take on Memphis in the American Athletic Conference title game. The Knights won 56-41 and extended their winning streak to 25 games.

January 2019 – Milton undergoes reconstructive surgery on his knee.

July 2019 – Milton’s knee becomes infected, requiring additional surgery and delaying his recovery for another six months.

October 2020 – Milton takes over the duties of the UCF scouting team.

December 3, 2020 – Milton announces his intention to transfer from UCF.

December 13, 2020 – Milton announces that he will stay in the state and bring his talent to the state of Florida.

July 1, 2021 – With the approval of the NCAA of the compensation of student-athletes by name, image and likeness, Milton joins Miami quarterback D’Eriq King to start a company called Dreamfield, aimed at helping other athletes capitalize on that market through things like meet and greet, autograph signings, and other events.

September 5, 2021 – Florida State faces Notre Dame in the 2021 season opener.

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