You can find original article at Orlando Sentinel.
When Joe Milton walks on a football field, everyone notices. He kind of stands out. That’s what happens when you are a 6-foot-6 quarterback with a 220-pound body that’s cut like an NFL wide receiver.
With the walk, of course, comes expectations. Before the Orlando Olympia High standout even throws a football, he knows people have already made assumptions. Positive or negative, he must fend it all off. He must focus, but he knows all eyes are upon him everywhere he goes.
“It seems like that sometimes,” Milton said recently.
He laughs sheepishly when it’s brought up. But he handles it.
“That’s something that we’ve been talking about since we got here,” said Olympia head coach Kyle Hayes, a Miami native who is entering his third spring with the Titans after moving to Orlando following previous stints at Pembroke Pines Flanagan and FIU, just to name a few.
“In my past, I had the luxury of coaching some guys who had that kind of status and so I kind of knew what to expect as a coach and we talked about how to handle certain things, and he’s done a great job.”
Everywhere he goes, reporters want to talk to him and he accommodates. He’s not flamboyant, but more shy in his demeanor. Don’t let that fool you, however. He’s a competitor with passion for the game.
He had a very busy February and Milton knows it will probably become more and more of that type of routine as he moves toward his senior year.
He recently participated in the Under Armour All-American and Nike The Opening regional camps, played in three 7-on-7 tournaments and led the Central Florida All-Stars to the championship of the Anthony Fielding Next Level 7v7 Tournament, hosted by Excel Speed Training at Central Florida Christian Academy two weeks ago.
The Central Florida All-Stars ran through that tournament undefeated and routed Seminole Elite 40-2 in the championship game.
This weekend he will be one of about 125 players in the state at the invitation-only Jordan Breakfast Club camp and 7-on-7 tournament in Miami.
Meanwhile, Milton has also been busy picking up more college football scholarship offers. Seven more, in fact, during the past month to boost his total to 19 Football Bowl Subdivision tenders, but only one of the state’s big three — Miami — has pulled the trigger, although FSU and Florida has shown interest.
“Florida State, Florida, Miami … they all three have been going at it out of the in-of-state schools,” Milton said.
His arm strength is what stands out the most. He’s big and also very strong. He spends plenty of time in the weight room and has a personal best squat of 500 pounds and a bench press of 240. He admittedly needs to get faster and he’d like to work on his consistency and accuracy, especially with his touch in the short-yardage passing game.
Sometimes with a young quarterback who has a cannon for an arm, it’s difficult to hone the finesse part of the passing game, but Milton knows what he needs to do to get better and is intent on getting there.
He doesn’t worry too much about his speed. He was clocked at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Nike event, but he shrugs it off.
“I know I’m not that fast, but I get where I need to go,” Milton laughed.
He’s labeled as a dual-threat quarterback and is athletic enough to pull that off, somewhat, but he’s really more of a pocket passer in disguise and he wants to become more developed in that aspect of his game, as well.
He’s not a rah-rah type of leader, letting his work inspire others, and he doesn’t spend a lot of time wasting words.
“[You’ve] just got to stay humble and be focused. Some things [you’ve] just got to accomplish,” Milton said.
At the Nike camp, invitations to the summer festival The Opening Nationals in Oregon were handed out to some of the event’s top performers, but Milton missed the cut. He also was not included on the invitation list for the Elite 11 quarterback competition. That miffed him, personally, but he kept it private.
“At the end of the day, like they said, it’s not over, so I still have the opportunity. ... I’ll just wait and be humble,” Milton said.
He’s growing up, too, which is another adjustment he holds proudly.
“I think I’m growing as an adult now. I’m doing things now that I didn’t do my sophomore year, when I did things that I didn’t do my freshman year,” Milton said.
Hayes sees it firsthand. When the coach arrived at Olympia, Milton was a quarterback in waiting. Milton had just moved to Orlando himself, a transplant from Pahokee a year before Hayes and he was finding his way.
“It’s been his maturity, more than anything, like most kids,” Hayes said Monday of the biggest change he has seen in Milton.
“When I met him, I think he was 14 and actually, today is his birthday, so he just turned 17 and maturity is setting in and so is the realistic part of the whole business of college football with the scouting and recruiting and the media … it’s all real now.”
Milton is also well aware that his evolution to the next stage is a work in progress and he’s been content with making strides little by little.
“I’m big on taking baby steps,” Hayes said. “You have to take it in stages. You go from here to college and even to the NFL … We already know he’s going to be a Division I player and the sky is the limit for him. It’s just up to him and what he chooses to do and I know he’s going to do great.
“He has all the upside in the world … it’s all just up to him.”