KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Former two-time American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and top-six Heisman Trophy finisher McKenzie Milton, who shined at quarterback under head coach Josh Heupel, has joined Tennessee’s football staff as an offensive analyst.
Milton, a native of Mililani, Hawaii, launches his coaching career after an inspirational journey as a player in lifting UCF to the pinnacle of college football. He led the Knights to 27-6 record as a starter—including an undefeated 2017 season—to go along with two AAC championships, two New Year’s Six Bowl appearances and multiple top-10 Heisman Trophy finishes.
“McKenzie represents everything that is great about college football,” Heupel said. “His perseverance, determination and leadership are attributes that made him successful as a player and will no doubt translate to him being an outstanding future coach. He’s always been a student of the game and understands the why behind what we do. We are thrilled to welcome McKenzie, Jany and Madden to Rocky Top.”
“I couldn’t be more excited about starting my coaching career at Tennessee and reuniting with Coach Heupel,” Milton said. “I am grateful to Coach Heupel and Director of Athletics Danny White for giving me this opportunity. Their leadership makes a difference. I look forward to helping the program in any way I can.”
In three seasons on the field for UCF from 2016-18, Milton threw for 8,683 yards and 72 touchdowns—both of which ranked fourth in school career annals. His 9,761 yards of total offense ranks third in UCF history, while his passer efficiency rating of 152.3 is also third in school record books. Milton was responsible for 92 touchdowns and owned a 61.8 completion percentage.
After a freshman season of 2016 in which he started 10 games, Milton took his game to another level in guiding the Knights to a 13-0 record in 2017 and a victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl. He was tabbed as the game’s most valuable player. Milton finished eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, and he was a finalist for the Manning Award. He broke single-season program records for passing yards (4,037), passing touchdowns (37), passing efficiency (179.29) and passing yards per attempt (10.2).
The 2018 season saw his game elevate even more in Heupel’s first campaign with the Knights as he finished sixth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. UCF completed an undefeated 11-0 regular season, and Milton was once again the catalyst throwing for 2,663 yards and 25 touchdowns. On Nov. 23, 2018, Milton’s playing career was in jeopardy as he suffered a devastating knee injury that required reconstructive surgery.
Undeterred by the major injury, Milton still became the first two-time AAC Offensive Player of the Year. After multiple surgeries, Milton sat out the 2019 season but was cleared to resume football activity in 2020 through his hard work and determination. He spent the 2020 season with the Knights before enrolling at Florida State as a graduate transfer in 2021.
On Sept. 5, 2021—1,018 days since the devastating injury—Milton made his triumphant return to the field in primetime, helping the Seminoles rally from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime against Notre Dame. He played in six games with four starts that season for Florida State, completing 81-of-139 passes for 775 yards and three touchdowns.
His inspirational journey was recognized as he earned the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year and the ACC Piccolo Award. He also was a nominee for the Orange Bowl FWAA Courage Award.
Milton, the 2014 Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year, earned his undergraduate degree from UCF in sport and exercise science in December 2019 before completing a master’s degree in educational leadership in May 2022.
He and his wife, Jany, have an 11-month-old son, Madden.