Mil­ton fam­ily thank­ful af­ter suc­cess­ful surgery

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Matt Murschel Or­lando Sen­tinel

UCF quar­ter­back McKen­zie Mil­ton’s fam­ily an­nounced he is re­cov­er­ing af­ter suc­cess­ful surgery on his right leg af­ter suf­fer­ing a dev­as­tat­ing in­jury in the first half of the Knights’ win over USF Fri­day.

The state­ment from Mil­ton’s fam­ily read:

“T h e Mi l t o n f a mi l y would like to ex­press grat­i­tude for all of your thoughts, prayers, and con­cerns. McKen­zie’s surgery was suc­cess­ful and he is re­cov­er­ing well. We would like to thank the med­i­cal staffs at Tampa Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, Uni­ver­sity of South Flor­ida, and the sports medicine staff at UCF for their su­perb care.

“McKen­zie looks for­ward to re­join­ing his team­mates in Or­lando and sup­port­ing them in their quest to bring an­other con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship to our pro­gram.

“Re­mem­ber what Ohana means. No one gets left be­hind. #UCFam­ily.”

Mil­ton, a Hawaii na­tive, went down around the 12-minute mark in the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter scram­bling for a first down, crum­pling to the ground af- ter be­ing tack­led by sev­eral USF de­fend­ers. The ju­nior re­mained down for nearly 10 min­utes as the UCF ath­letic train­ing staff treated him.

He left the field on a cart and was trans­ported to Tampa Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, where he went through emer­gency me d i c a l surgery.

Af­ter the game, UCF coach Josh He­u­pel de­clined to spec­u­late on the sever­ity of the in­jury, call­ing it “trau­matic” be­fore adding, “All our thoughts and prayers are with him right now.”

The Knights will host Mem­phis this week for the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Cham­pi­onship Game. Backup Dar­riel Mack Jr., who stepped in when Mil­ton went down, will lead the of­fense. Mack ac­counted for 132 yards dur­ing the win over USF, help­ing UCF post back-to­back un­de­feated sea­sons and ex­tend the na­tion’s long­est win streak to 24 games..

Mil­ton has been one of the more durable play­ers dur­ing his time at UCF, start­ing 31 out of the 32 games dur­ing the past three sea­sons. He missed his first ca­reer start against East Carolina back on Oct. 20, snap­ping a 27-game streak of con­sec­u­tive starts.

Tributes have poured in for Mil­ton, with col­lege foot­ball an­a­lysts, op­pos­ing play­ers, his UCF team­mates, Or­lando com­mu­nity lead­ers and fans all ral­ly­ing around the quar­ter­back who was touted as a po­ten­tial Heis­man Tro­phy can­di­date this sea­son.

Some UCF fans are en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to wear leis to the Knights’ con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game Satur­day against Mem­phis at Spec­trum Sta­dium, a salute to Mil­ton’s Hawai­ian roots.

Mil­ton’s team­mates are push­ing to honor him on the field.

“I’m just pray­ing for him,” Mack said of Mil­ton af­ter the win over USF. “It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult, just see­ing him go down.”

UCF run­ning back Greg McCrae said ev­ery game is now ded­i­cated to Mil­ton, with Mack hold­ing up Mil­ton’s No. 10 jer­sey dur­ing War on I-4 postgame cel­e­bra­tion the vet­eran quar­ter­back missed be­cause he was get­ting treat­ment at a nearby hos­pi­tal.

“It is heart­break­ing be­cause McKen­zie Mil­ton is a great per­son,” McCrae said.

AILEEN PERILLA/OR­LANDO SEN­TINEL

UCF quar­ter­back Macken­zie Mil­ton (10) grabs right leg af­ter get­ing tack­led by the USF de­fense, in­jur­ing his leg Fri­day at Ray­mond James Sta­dium.

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