‘It was special’: Mark Milton reflects on son McKenzie’s return to football on Sunday


Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) during the second half of an NCAA football game against Notre Dame on Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

In a moment 1,017 days in the making, McKenzie Milton made his official return to football in a game against No. 9 Notre Dame in a nationally televised game on Sunday.

Milton, who suffered a serious knee injury on Nov. 23, 2018, has been rehabbing his leg ever since in order to play the sport he loves again.

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Even though tasks as simple as walking were not guaranteed following surgery, Milton had bigger goals and was hellbent on getting back on the field.

The painstaking process paid off for Milton on Sunday, who completed five of seven passes for 48 yards. Florida State went on to lose 38-35 in overtime, but Milton captivated and inspired the nationwide audience.

Dozens of Milton’s friends and family were at the game at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., including his parents.

“It happened so fast that it wasn’t like he was warming up on the sideline or there was a lot of anticipation, it just happened. I’m personally really proud of him,” Milton’s father, Mark, told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “He was ready for that moment and in our mind, God is good and that wouldn’t have happened without a lot of intervention and all the support from everybody, from Hawaii to Florida to throughout the country. It was special.

“I think for him, it was a much bigger agenda than just football. I think for him personally, right from the beginning, he told Dr. (Bruce) Levy, ‘I’m gonna play again.’ It was that matter-of-factly. Dr. Levy said, ‘If you can just walk and walk without blimps? For the rest of your life, anything else is a bonus. We’re just glad that his ability to persevere, deal with the obstacles and the adversity that he had to face day to day for almost the last three years, he’s up for the challenge of that.”

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