ORLANDO, Fla. — With one shot to the knee, Mckenzie Milton’s season was over. Time was frozen for UCF’s undefeated campaign, with all of the college football world worried primarily for his health.
Except for Milton himself, of course.
- Knights seniors: We have unfinished business
- Milton generally positive, has had at least one surgery
- Knights ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 Poll
- PREVIOUS STORY: Family of UCF QB Milton: McKenzie's Surgery Was Successful
“He’s been really positive," Head Coach Josh Heupel said at a press conference Monday. "For McKenzie, the first thing he asked was about that game. He was talking to his family, and he wanted to know what the final of the game was.”
Not much is known about the status of Milton's injured leg, and the program said his family would be the ones updating his condition at their discretion. So Heupel did not give many details.
It is known that he underwent surgery at Tampa General Hospital, and his latest condition was listed as "good." From Heupel's statements Monday, it sounds like more than one surgery may be, or may have been, needed.
“I’ve talked to him since the first surgery. I told him that I love him. And all of our players have been up there," Heupel said. "The hurdles that he’s had to clear up to this point, he’s cleared in typical McKenzie fashion.”
Witnessing an injury like Milton’s can be traumatic for any teammate, let alone any human being. That’s why the Knights turned to their senior leaders to will the team to the finish line against South Florida.
“Right after he went down, Tito (Davis) and Pat (Jasinski), and me brought everyone together and said, 'hey, we still have unfinished business here.' And I think that’s understood,” offensive lineman Wyatt Miller said.
And it was. Even at the lowest point of their season, the Knights didn't fret. They held off the Bulls and managed to win the War on I4 38-10, cruising into the American Athletic Conference Championship game this coming weekend against Memphis.
The Knights also moved up one spot in the AP Top 25 poll Sunday, to No. 7.
“It shows that we have some good leaders on the team that are able to get everybody’s heads together and help everybody stay focused on our main goal, which is to go 1-0 each week,” defensive lineman A.J. Wooten said.
So it’s the same mantra for the title game: Go 1-0, and don’t get caught up in the emotions.
“It would mean a lot for us to pull through for (Milton), because he’s one of the biggest competitors on our team, and he’s a winner," tight end Michael Colubiale said. "So for us to win this game for him, would mean a lot."