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McKenzie Milton aims for 2020 return to football

In late December of last year, McKenzie Milton‘s position coach refused to slam the door on the UCF quarterback’s return to the football field in 2019. The player has, though -- but he’s also optimistic about his recovery from a significant knee injury.

Speaking to the media recently, Milton appears to be targeting 2020 for what would be a miraculous return to the sport. And, despite initial fears -- and the fact that he can only put 75 pounds of pressure on his right leg four months after sustaining the injury -- the rising fourth-year senior is optimistic he’ll be able to resume his collegiate playing career at some point.

“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 according to Matt Murschel of 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. ...

“I feel like I’m definitely going to play football again at a very high level.”

In the second quarter of UCF’s win over rival USF last November, Milton went down with a horrific and gruesome injury to his right leg. Medical personnel immobilized the quarterback’s entire leg before he was taken to a local hospital for further treatment of an injury that his head coach, Josh Heupel, deemed “traumatic.”

It was subsequently confirmed that Milton underwent emergency surgery to repair unspecified damage in his knee as well as what was described as “other internal issues.” Not long after, Milton’s family issued a statement in which they described the surgery as being successful on a knee that was dislocated and had sustained significant nerve damage.

In the days following the injury, one of Milton’s teammates, Jordan Johnson, revealed that he had FaceTimed with Milton and that the quarterback stated he was able to take steps for the first time since the initial surgery was performed. In another statement, the family confirmed that “blood flow has been restored to his right leg and his nerve is injured but intact.”

Milton, who was released from the hospital eight days after sustaining the injury, traveled with the rest of his teammates to Arizona for UCF’s New Year’s Day date with LSU in the Fiesta Bowl. In late January, Milton underwent what was a fifth surgery on the injured knee in two months.