Name: Joe Milton
Weight: 243 lbs.
High school: Olympia (FL) Olympia
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #5
Last year: I ranked Milton #55 and said he would be a backup quarterback (LINK). He completed 3/7 passes for 59 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception; he also ran 5 times for 16 yards and 1 touchdown.
TTB Rating: 85
WHAT?!?!?! THE STARTING QUARTERBACK IS RANKED #16?!?!?!
Yeah, I didn’t have Milton pegged as the starting quarterback. This countdown was put together long before Dylan McCaffrey opted out and planned to transfer. This is a pretty high ranking for a backup quarterback, largely because McCaffrey hasn’t made it through a season healthy.
It’s a low ranking for a starter.
I’ve overanalyzed Milton to the point of exhaustion (LINK), and obviously my interpretation of the quarterback battle did not mesh with the coaching staff’s. Milton has looked jittery and made poor decisions at almost every opportunity so far in his college career, and the only area where he looks like a plus player is in the run game. Even some of his completions have come when throwing jump balls into double coverage to Nico Collins, making guys dive to catch slants, etc.
On the plus side, Milton is absolutely an enticing athlete with very impressive arm strength and above average speed. Some people – including Devin Gardner, who worked with Milton in the off-season – have said Milton is Cam Newton-like in his physcality. And Milton has a stronger arm than Newton.
If Milton made tremendous strides in the off-season, then he certainly could have overtaken McCaffrey, who had his own struggles. But buying into that notion requires us to suspend what we saw on the field and believe in word trickling out of workouts. And we all know that off-season hype is overblown more often than not.
All that being said, Milton is now The Man. The hope is that he is a difference-maker from the quarterback position, something Michigan has not really had in many years. Denard Robinson was a difference-maker with his feet but struggled as a passer. Devin Gardner had a few games where he looked like a superstar, but that was not consistent.
I expect inconsistency, because that’s what we’ve seen so far. Milton has been inaccurate, and I go to the School of Mike Leach, who believes you’re either accurate or you’re not. I don’t expect Milton to start completed 65% or 67% of his passes, but if he can be around 61-62%, hit some deep balls, and make plays with his feet, Michigan could be in business.
Prediction: Starting quarterback