After his season-ending injury, and potentially life threatening injury against USF last season, the premier player of the Knights, McKenzie Milton is continuing his long road of recovery.
He spoke with SportCenter’s Scott Van Pelt on Tuesday night to give an update on how he’s doing, and when fans might see his return to the field?
“I really feel like we’re just scratching the surface here at UCF, whether I’m playing or not. The sky is the limit here and I’m grateful to be a part of the rising of Knight Nation.” -KZ to @notthefakeSVP
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 7, 2019
“I’m aiming for 2020 to step on the football field again, but at this point there is no set time table, I’m just taking it day by day. I’ve made significant strides but I still need to strengthen up my leg, there’s a lot off room to grow but I’m further along than any doctor or medical trainer would expect and I feel like that’s by the grace of God. I’ve had a lot of prayers and a lot of good people taking care of me and I want to thank the UCF medical staff for putting me in the hands of the best doctors in the country and taking care of my knee.”
Though he know’s he won’t see the field this year, Milton is continuing to look at the bright side of things, being grateful for those who’ve helped him in his recovery so far. Milton was then asked how it feels to not know if his game will all come back to him the way it once was. He gave this hopeful response:
“I’ve been in the hands of some of the best doctors in the world, and went up to the mayo clinic to have my reconstruction done it’s been amazing, the nerve is back to 100% so now its about strengthening up my leg… I was a lucky one that the nerve’s coming back so fast”
With his torn nerve healed, his main focus is making his knee stronger. But the recovery time isn’t going to stop him from continuing to make his mark with the Knights. Van Pelt asked him how much satisfaction can he could allow himself knowing the role he’s played in this program thus far.
He concluded with, “I’m just grateful to be a part of this team that’s went on such a special run. I really feel like we’re just scratching the surface here at UCF, whether I’m playing or not. The sky is the limit here and I’m grateful to be a part of the rising of Knight Nation.”
Even off the filed, it is certain that Milton will continue to improve the Knights offense, allowing him to lay the foundations for his potential college coaching career.
However, the Knights currently have more questions than answers at their quarterback position, and the solutions to those questions might impact, if they can live up to their previous two seasons on excellence.
When UCF’s presumed starter to begin the 2019 season, Darriel Mack, Jr., has suffered a non-football injured broken ankle, rendering him now out indefinitely. That has now thrown a real curve ball into coach Josh Heupel’s plan to have Mack be the guy, but potentially, be challenged by Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush.
Wimbush is likely to be the next in line, but the Knights also have a McKenzie Milton-like QB clone from Hawaii, again, in freshman undersized but speedy Dillon Gabriel. The 6’0, 185lbs. Gabriel broke several of Milton and Marcus Mariota’s high school records in Hawaii, including most yards passing in a high school career.
Even amidst the QB struggle, the knights are projected to have another dominant season, projected by the AAC media to win the conference title for the third year, and most recently being ranked 17 in the USA Today preseason coaches poll.
We’ll get a first look at who UCF chooses as their QB and if it looks like they’ll be able to lead them to another dominant season, when they take on Florida A&M on August 29th.
USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday
On Tuesday afternoon the American Athletic Conference made official is 2020 football dates for opponents for its conference members. And, that means UCF and USF got to look for the first time at their full conference slates and when they are playing whom.
First for the Knights, they learned that they will open year three of coach Josh Heupel’s conference play on Thursday night September 24th at East Carolina. It is one of three stand-alone weeknight(day) games UCF has on their schedule.
The next one will be Friday night October 16th, as UCF travels to play the Memphis Tigers. That’s a team that the Knights defeated for two Conference Championship Game victories in 2017 and 18.
— American Football (@American_FB) February 18, 2020
UCF will also play a traditional “War on I-4” game with the rival Bulls on the Friday after Thanksgiving November 27th. This will be the fourth straight year of playing on “Black Friday.”
As for the Knights other part of the league schedule, they will have their AAC home opener with Tulsa on Saturday October 3rd and then, finish the slate with two huge home matchups with Temple Saturday November 14th followed by Cincinnati at Spectrum Stadium the following week.
For the Bulls, who welcome first year coach Jeff Scott in 2020, they will only have two standalone appearances in conference play. Those will be a Friday night home game October 23rd with Tulsa and then, the previously mentioned final rivalry game with UCF on Friday November 27th.
The Bulls first conference game of the season will be at Cincinnati on October 3rd, while the home opener is East Carolina the following week at Raymond James Stadium.
USF has a tough road slate beginning at Temple on October 17th and then, after the Friday night home game with Tulsa, playing at Memphis November 7th and at Houston November 14th.
The conference is playing 2020 with only 11 members, as UConn has departed and gone back to the Big East. This will also be the first time that the AAC doesn’t play a two six team division format and will instead take the top two ranked teams in conference play for it’s December Championship Game.
Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl
One-player eager to start showcasing himself Saturday afternoon in the pre-draft process in St Petersburg is former UCF speedster RB, Adrian Killins.
Killins ,who just finished four years of highlight runs and touchdowns for the the Knights will participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) December 2, 2019
Killins is generously listed at 5’9 and 165 lb. and came UCF without much fanfare from Daytona Mainland High School. However, he had been an explosive player on the football gridiron, and he was also a former two time 3A State 200m track champion before coming to Orlando.
Once at UCF in 2016, Killins immediately showed off his explosiveness and moniker of “fastest player in college football” with a 100-yard kickoff return at ECU and an 87 yard touchdown run at “the Big House” in Ann Arbor against Michigan.
His best season was his sophomore year, when he was named First Team All American Athletic Conference RB, as he rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead UCF. He showed versatility and caught another additional 25 passes for 169 yards.
He also set a UCF record for longest play from scrimmage that still stands, in the UCF regular season win over Memphis, as he took a handoff and the looked like a missle racing down the sideline:
Longest run in @UCF_Football history ✔️
Longest run in @American_FB history ✔️
2nd-longest in NCAA this year ✔️
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 1, 2017
Killins helped the Knights experience their greatest season ever at 13 – 0 with not only a thrilling double-overtime conference title game rematch win over the Tigers, but a New Year’s Day upset of SEC Powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl for the perfect season.
His next two years under Josh Heupel and his new coaching staff were not as spectacular. But, he still he would make the occasional explosive run and finished his career with over 1,700 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.
He did leave a final impression with his 115 yards and 1 TD in the regular season finale with USF.
Now, he knows that with his smaller size, even with blazing speed, he will be challenged to stick on an NFL roster, and another way might be as a kick returner. Killins left UCF with a career 21.8 avg on 47 returns as a Knight.
He will likely need to show that part of his game to help him get a realistic shot at the next level. And, we wait to see if there will be explosive plays from him Saturday.