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‘I gave UCF everything I had’: QB McKenzie Milton announces he’s entering transfer portal

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Milton will look to compete for a starting job elsewhere in order to continue chasing his dream of playing in the NFL

McKenzie Milton on UCF Football Senior Knight in 2019 Derek Warden

QB McKenzie Milton is leaving UCF and entering the transfer portal to play his final year of college football elsewhere, he announced Thursday morning.

“It’s hard. It’s one of the hardest things for me to do, but it just makes the most sense,” Milton said in a video released by the football program. “I’m trying to think of it more logically than emotionally, because I bleed Black and Gold, it’s where my heart’s at.”

Milton said he approached head coach Josh Heupel during the team’s November bye week “out of respect” to discuss his future as the Knights quarterback.

“I have one shot to go chase a dream, a lifelong dream, to go play in the NFL,” Milton said.

Heupel was hoping he could talk Milton into staying with the Knights, but Milton knew what was the best move for him. Heupel got emotional, Milton said.

The Hawaiian quarterback has steadily worked his way back from a gruesome knee injury suffered more than two years ago and spent much of this season operating as the quarterback of UCF’s scout team. But Milton understands that there isn’t an opportunity for him to be the Knights’ starting quarterback once again, and he didn’t want to take away from the future of his best friend and teammate, quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

“It’s DG’s team now,” Milton said. “I feel like the torch is passed and I feel like, like I say, he’s gonna take it to a whole ‘nother level. ... He’s earned that right to be our QB.”

Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton, left, and quarterback Dillon Gabriel (11) watch from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

After rumors began to swirl about a possible return to the field on Black Friday for the War on I-4 matchup against USF, Milton told ESPN he wasn’t 100 percent ready to play.

“I haven’t suited up all year and I don’t see the point in going out there today for sentimental reasons,” Milton told ESPN. “For me I don’t want to go out there until 100 percent and playing at a high level.”

Milton threw for 8,683 yards and 72 touchdowns from 2016-18. Each number ranks as the fourth-most in program history. He was also an integral part in UCF’s 25-game winning streak and the 2018 Peach Bowl victory over Auburn, which resulted in a national championship.

In a statement released on his Instagram page Thursday, Milton wrote, “I may be suiting up in different colors, but I’ll always bleed Black and Gold.”

Daniella Medina is a contributing writer for Black & Gold Banneret. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.