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McKenzie Milton in the NCAA transfer portal: How it works, what he’s looking for and what’s next

You have questions. We have answers. And more questions.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Auburn vs Central Florida
Jan 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Central Florida Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) celebrates a victory against the Auburn Tigers in the 2018 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

QB McKenzie Milton announced Thursday he would enter the NCAA transfer portal, ending his five-year career with the UCF Knights football program.

The Hawaiian quarterback in his final year of eligibility has not suited up for the Knights in two years following the November 2018 leg injury he suffered during a game against USF. Instead, Milton has been running the UCF scout team for the past two months.

Rumors of Milton’s return to the football field swirled ahead of this year’s matchup against USF, but he told ESPN he was not “100 percent” to play, and he didn’t want to play for “sentimental reasons.”

He came to UCF as a true freshman in 2016 and has thrown for 8,683 yards and 72 touchdowns until 2018. Under Milton, UCF accomplished two back-to-back undefeated seasons, a Peach Bowl win over Auburn and a National Championship title.

As Milton prepares to suit up in colors that are not Black and Gold, fans have questions — the main one being “Where the hell is McKenzie Milton going?” Here’s what we know about McKenzie Milton’s decision to enter the NCAA transfer portal.

Why did McKenzie Milton enter the transfer portal?

Milton is looking for a starting QB job elsewhere in his final year of NCAA eligibility on the road to his dream of playing in the NFL. He also did not want to take away from the future of his longtime friend and teammate, Dillon Gabriel, who has a good chance of being a top NFL Draft pick year, Milton said.

“There’s no reason — whether it’s a five-star recruit coming in, whether it’s me coming off the injury — he should have to even be put in a position to compete,” Milton said. “He’s earned that right to be our QB.”

Milton did everything he could at UCF as a player and gave the program all he had, he said.

What is the transfer portal and how does it work?

The NCAA transfer portal is a database brought about in October 2018 that basically lists student-athletes of every sport who are looking to transfer schools. It was created to facilitate and add transparency to the transfer process, according to the NCAA.

In addition to empowering student-athletes to make their own decision when it comes to transferring programs, those with access to the portal can view and transfer real-time data and information about the athletes listed.

The portal, however, has nothing to do with NCAA eligibility. It also does not affect the decisions of the Division I waiver team. Examples of waivers include no participation opportunity, egregious behavior, player injury or illness and family injury or illness. Milton has one year of NCAA eligibility left — this includes the COVID-19 waiver issued by the NCAA. He never redshirted a year, so he would not need to apply to gain eligibility.

NCAA Football: South Florida at Central Florida
Nov 29, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Central Florida Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) is greeted by his teammates prior to the game between the Central Florida Knights and the South Florida Bulls at Spectrum Stadium.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Once a student-athlete requests their school to enter them in the transfer portal, the school has two business days to comply. Once in the portal, student-athletes can choose to receive communication from schools or reach out to schools on their own. On the other side, coaches have access to and can track the players in the portal.

More than 15,000 student-athletes entered the transfer portal in 2018-19, according to the NCAA. About 10,000 of these players were from D1 schools and 25% of those D1 student-athletes were football players.

When does McKenzie Milton have to make a decision?

There is no deadline in the transfer portal. A player can enter or leave the portal at any time (UCF QB Quadry Jones did it in January). The only time a deadline would come into play is in regards to enrollment periods and eligibility requirements.

Milton has no timeline, he told Marc Daniels and Mike Bianchi on “96.9 The Game” on Friday after making his announcement. Despite not being in a rush to transfer schools, Milton said he would want to be on campus by the start of the spring semester in January. He said he has the whole month of December to decide as the seasons play out.

“I’m not gonna jump the gun on committing to a school right away,” Milton said. “I’m gonna weigh out all my options with my family and we’ll figure out what the best fit is.”

What is McKenzie Milton looking for in his new team?

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Auburn vs Central Florida
Jan 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Central Florida Knights head coach Scott Frost and quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) celebrate a victory against the Auburn Tigers in the 2018 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Milton is not looking at any schools specifically and is “definitely open to any and all options,” he said on “96.9 The Game.” He also said he is giving the respect of hearing out every coach who reaches out to him.

There are three things Milton said he is looking for: a good offensive line that can protect, a good culture and somewhere where he can win. What he’s not really taking into consideration: the weather. Although, he did admit he knew playing in the NFL would lead to some cold games up north he would have to be prepared for.

What is McKenzie Milton doing to prepare in the transfer portal?

Photo: UCF Athletics

Milton told ESPN’s Andrea Adelson he was putting together game highlights and scout team work for prospective coaches. He is also ready to answer any and all questions about his leg injury and his process.

“I’m going to tell them I feel really good, and I’ve got film to show them from scout team, making all the throws, making throws on the run,” Milton told ESPN. “But I’ll also let them know I’ll be ready to compete full go in spring ball for a starting job, and by the time the season rolls around I’m going to be 100 percent ready to go. I’m confident in that. There’s nothing for me to hide. I’ll do whatever I have to do. It’s not anything I’m worried about. If that was something I was concerned about, I probably wouldn’t be making this move.”

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