ORLANDO, Fla. >> UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton said he is trying to help his teammates as a student coach, but he is still pushing to get back on the field.
“The dream is the same,” Milton said after practice Thursday. “I want to go the NFL one day, I want to play football. I want to coach after that.”
Milton, who suffered a catastrophic knee injury nearly a year ago against USF that almost forced doctors to amputate his leg, said he has made a lot of progress during the past 11 months. He does not have a timeline for his return, saying he is taking it day to day while pushing to improve.
“I still have a long way to go, but I’m definitely not taking it for granted,” Milton said.
Milton said the end goal is getting back on the football field, but he isn’t willing to rush the process in order to make that a reality.
“I want to get back out there suited up for my guys, but I don’t want to be in a position where I’m out there 85-90% and not being the best player for those guys,” Milton explained. “I feel like it would be a disservice to myself if I’m not right or I don’t fully trust the leg to make cuts, jumps or whatever.”
He credited the UCF medical staff, including head athletic trainer Mary Vander Heiden, for helping him through the recovery.
Milton said his next goal is to get his heavy leg brace removed. He can’t run or jump yet, but Milton said he’s getting closer to that point and looks forward to “feeling more like an athlete again.”
“My nerve feels great, I’ve got full feeling in my foot, I’m getting my strength back,” he said. “I still have a ways to go and I’m not saying I’m going to be playing next week, but it’s getting there.”
While he remains optimistic about a return to the football field, Milton said ultimately any decision to end his playing career will most likely come down to him.
“I feel like it will probably be my decision,” Milton said. “But if the doctors say that you can’t go, then it is what it is. I know that I gave my best shot to play football and I know I left everything out there for my guys, myself and my family, so I would be OK with that.
“But I don’t see that being the case. If it comes down to the doctors say I can go and I don’t feel like I can go, then it would be on me more so than the doctors.”