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NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE: Joe Milton's ascension to college football prominence

By: Jake Hubbard

Senior Staff Writer, Junior Editor, Co-Host


The year is 2018: Tennessee is in the dark days… we do not speak about those. Joe Milton III is was a three-star prospect out of Florida. Milton had some big time offers from multiple powerhouses, due to his God-given athleticism and having a ceiling higher than Snoop Dogg mid April. Ultimately, Milton found a home in Ann Arbor, and enrolled in January 2018.

Photo | 247 Sports

Fast forward to 2020. Joe Milton finds himself as the starter at the esteemed University of Michigan. Again, with great talent and play making ability…the sky was the limit for Milton. With such comes great expectations. As a starter at Michigan, Milton did not necessarily meet those expectations.

After a rough outing in a lopsided loss to Wisconsin, Milton found himself sliding the wrong way in the depth charts. Of note, when Milton was pulled, there are reports of him shaking his head in frustration, disbelief, and/or disagreement.

This is where Milton’s path takes a turn. He finished out the season behind Cade McNamara, and decides to take his talents elsewhere, south to Knoxville. When Milton arrived on Rocky Top, the hype arrived soon thereafter. A big bodied quarterback, a threat in the run game, and an arm that can throw a football across the state, Vol Nation was excited for this guy. After a strenuous QB battle, Milton again found himself atop the depth charts, and got the nod from Heupel to start the 2021 season.

Milton played decent in his first couple of games in orange… and decent may be a bit of an overstatement. On paper, Milton went 32/62 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. That 51% completion percentage was almost unbearable to watch. His footwork was poor, decision making wasn’t the best, and we all know about the overthrows. Injury or not, Hendon Hooker was going to take away that starting position. He did, and never gave Milton a sniff of the starting spot again.

This is where Milton stands out to me and many others. Milton saw Hooker take the starting spot. Instead of pulling away and looking to transfer, which he had already done once in his career, Milton kept true to what he believed in…the Vols. Milton became one of the most supportive, positive, and hardworking teammates I remember seeing on Rocky Top.

He was the first one congratulating Hooker on a great throw, he was electric in his appearances as a backup, and he loved playing ball for the University of Tennessee. He and Hooker became best friends, roommates, and I believe that Milton took tremendous strides as a quarterback while maintaining his position as a backup.

As a relief/late season starter (after Hooker’s injury) in 2022, Milton looked like a different player. He was more accurate, he had more finesse on the short ball, his footwork was cleaned up, he was the Milton that he was advertised as. He took his completion percentage to 64%, threw for 10 more TDs, and he still has yet to throw an interception in orange. He took the lead in the Orange Bowl and looked tremendous, throwing for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns. He looked comfortable, and he made it look


The hype surrounding Joe Milton is real. Does he still have some things to prove? Absolutely. Does Milton have some doubters to hush? Yes. Is he a Heisman candidate? Could be, who knows. Should Vol Nation be worried? No chance.


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