DALLAS (FWAA) — Florida State’s McKenzie Milton is this week’s nominee for the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Milton, a quarterback, has returned from a nearly catastrophic knee injury to start at quarterback for the Seminoles this season.

“It was time to roll,” Milton said after his first game. “I didn’t have time to process any emotions. A job had McKenzie_MiltonNotre_Dame_Ken_Lanese to be done. God is real. That’s the one thing I can say. Nobody’s ever come back from an injury like this. Thousands of people praying for me from the moment I got hurt. Coaches believing in me. I’m not here without all the support, all the prayers.”

Milton’s right leg was nearly amputated following a gruesome injury during a UCF game against USF on Nov. 23, 2018. He had suffered nerve and artery damage, along with a dislocated knee and torn ligaments. Doctors were not sure if Milton would be able to one day walk again without a limp, and the idea of ever playing football again was all but ruled out.

But Milton persevered across a nearly three-year span, working his way back to the scout team with UCF last season before ultimately transferring to Florida State, in search of an opportunity to play and a fresh start. The Kapolei, Hawaii native ended up losing the fall camp battle for the Seminoles’ starting job to Jordan Travis, but when Travis had to leave the team’s opener against Notre Dame for a play after losing his helmet, Milton stepped in and fired a 22-yard completion to Ja’Khi Douglas. He remained in the game the rest of the way, inspiring a primetime national television audience as he completed 5 of 7 passes for 48 yards and led a 10-point comeback to force overtime, before the Seminoles ultimately lost to the No. 9 Irish.

The 5-foot-11, 189-pound Milton has started FSU’s two games since, completing 34 of 54 passes on the season for 300 yard with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Milton was one of the best players in the country before his injury, as he led UCF to two American Athletic Conference titles, including an undefeated season and Peach Bowl win over Auburn in 2017. He was 27-6 as a starter with the Knights, finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2017 and sixth in 2018. He is the only two-time AAC offensive player of the year in the conference’s history.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State analyst Alex Charlton (2020), Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D'Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars through its Orange Bowl Cares program: Youth Sports, Education, Community Engagement and Legacy Programs. Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, 2021. For more information on the 2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional inquiries and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.


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