UCF QB McKenzie Milton joins the podcast: once overlooked, now inspiring millions

You’ll hear many people – including myself – claim that football is the ultimate team sport. Each and every play, it takes all 11 players doing their job to ensure success. But this week my focus is on one position in particular – the quarterback. Quarterbacking an offense at any level of football calls for a unique mixture of athletic ability, intelligence, confidence and leadership. QB’s have to have the trust of their teammates, which means the way they behave in the locker room is equally as important as how they perform on the field. There isn’t a job in all of sports that asks so much of one person and brings so much praise and scrutiny. And as a result, the players that take the helm of college football programs every Saturday have some of the most powerful stories in sports today.
This week, I had the chance to bring Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton on my podcast (you can listen above). Last year he finished eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy while leading his team to an undefeated season. With their winning streak now at 19 in a row, he’s got a shot at winning the award this year too. But ask Milton about what means the most to him as a player right now, and he won’t point to the wins, or the accolades. Instead, he’ll discuss his roots. He grew up in Hawaii alongside Tua Tagovailoa, now the starting quarterback for Alabama. Looking up to local hero Marcus Mariota, McKenzie and Tua began working out together at a young age. They learned the skills required to compete, as well as the poise required to lead – both essential to quarterbacks at the college level. Those years of hard work, along with the tutelage of his many “aunties and uncles” on the island have helped Milton grow into one of the best quarterbacks and leaders in the country. Listen to our full conversation (link) to hear how Milton has dealt with adversity in his career, and how he’s preparing for the remainder of the season.
Another QB with particularly impressive leadership resides in the Pac-12 conference – only he’s no longer suiting up. Instead, Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith now leads from the sidelines as the Beavers’ head coach. As I prepared to call his game against Cal this weekend on Pac-12 Networks, Smith told me that during his career preparation has always been key. As a player, he meticulously studied film of opposing defenses and impressive quarterbacks. Now, he’s trying to learn from other CEO’s. Each Monday, he’ll watch the last two minutes of every half of every Pac-12 game to study how other head coaches manage critical downs and distances under pressure. His routine reminded me that so much of our lives are spent trying to get into the chair of the CEO – and when we get there everything we do is for the first time. Smith knows you have to create learning opportunities for yourself in order to be prepared for the moment. With the resources available through technology today, inexperience is no longer a valid excuse for falling short of expectations.
Bonus: You asked and we listened! Each Monday I do a film study of college football on Instagram, often wearing a How Great Is Ball tee shirt. Many of you have asked for a shirt yourself, so our team created one and now you can also rock a #HowGreatIsBall tee – take a look and when you wear it, please share it and tag me on social media!

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