TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Redshirt senior quarterback McKenzie Milton has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Brian Piccolo Award winner, sharing the honor with Clemson’s Justyn Ross. The Piccolo Award is given annually to the league’s ‘most courageous’ football player and is named for the former Wake Forest and Chicago Bears running back.
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) November 29, 2021
“I am incredibly happy for McKenzie to be recognized with the Piccolo Award,” head coach Mike Norvell said. “He has displayed a tremendous amount of resilience, drive and competitive spirit throughout his long process of returning to play football. McKenzie made an unbelievable investment to reach his goal even when the odds were firmly against him.
“He is a great teammate, and his character and leadership have made a profound impact on our program. We are so proud McKenzie is part of our Seminole Family.”
Milton, from Kapolei, Hawai’i, transferred to Florida State after a five-year career at UCF. After leading the Knights to 23 consecutive wins, including the 2017 Peach Bowl, Milton suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the 2018 regular-season finale. A two-time Heisman Trophy candidate, Milton suffered artery and nerve damage to his leg, a dislocated knee and multiple torn ligaments and tendons. His right leg was nearly amputated after the helmet-to-knee hit caused a lack of blood flow to his leg.
Doctors removed a vein from his left leg to help create a new artery for his right leg to restore blood flow and successfully save his leg. The main goal from the surgeons who operated on him was for him to hopefully one day walk without a limp and without pain. After eight surgical procedures, he persevered through more than 1,000 days of rehabilitation, and in December 2020, transferred to Florida State.
Milton started four games for the Seminoles in 2021, completing 58.3 percent of his passes with three touchdowns. His relief appearance on opening weekend against No. 9 Notre Dame helped complete an 18-point fourth-quarter comeback to force overtime.
Milton is FSU’s seventh recipient of the Piccolo Award, joining Dan Footman in 1992, Sam Cowart in 1997, Corey Simon in 1998, Chris Weinke in 1999, Anquan Boldin in 2002 and Chris Thompson in 2012.
Brian Piccolo was the 1965 ACC Athlete of the Year at Wake Forest and played for the Chicago Bears before his career was cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer. His courageous fight against the disease was an inspiration to the Bears and the entire football community.