College Sports

UCF fans will be wearing leis — 40,000 of them in all — during Saturday’s title game

Saban dismisses claim that UCF shares national title with Alabama

Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."
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Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."

Support for UCF junior quarterback McKenzie Milton, following his traumatic right knee injury that devastated the Knights, their fans and forced an emergency surgery during the weekend at Tampa General Hospital, has come from different places.

There are the obvious spots: his teammates, coaches and UCF fans.

There’s also been support via social media from UCF’s biggest rival, USF and its fans, as well as an Orlando-area middle school.

Rock Lake Middle School, located just north of Orlando in Longwood, declared this Friday as a Hawaiian Shirt Day in honor of Milton, a native Hawaiian, via a social media post.

UCF, itself, is honoring Milton by distributing 40,000 leis, which is a Hawaiian tradition, at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando prior to the Knights’ American Athletic Conference championship game against Memphis.

UCF fans, via social media postings, sparked the lei-wearing idea for Saturday’s game. The Knights worked with Global Promo for the apparel.

“Global Promo and owner Sanjay Sam Srinivasan deserve a huge thank you for donating a large number of these leis,” UCF athletic director Danny White told UCFKnights.com. “Sanjay is a UCF alumnus and season-ticket holder, and he was integral in helping us put this together. The UCF Student Government Association generously donated a number of leis, as well. Our students have been incredible supporters of the team all season and they continue to do so through this gesture.”

Milton picked up the injury early in the second quarter of last Friday’s War on I-4 rivalry game at USF. He was tackled low on a running play that saw him clutching his right knee after landing to the ground at Raymond James Stadium. Backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. guided the Knights the remainder of the game, which resulted in a UCF victory to clinch a second consecutive undefeated regular season.

Milton was transported to Tampa General Hospital, where he underwent surgery. The Milton family released a statement regarding McKenzie and the support he had received immediately after the injury.

“The Milton family would like to express gratitude for all of your thoughts, prayers and concerns,” the statement read. “McKenzie’s surgery was successful, and he is recovering well. We would like to thank the medical staffs at Tampa General Hospital, University of South Florida and the sports medicine staff at UCF for their superb care. McKenzie looks forward to joining his teammates in Orlando and supporting them in their quest to bring another conference championship to our program. Remember what Ohana means. No one gets left behind. #UCFamily.”

UCF head coach Josh Heupel told Orlando-based radio station 96.9 FM during the Open Mike show that any further details about the injury would come from the family. Milton’s teammate, Jordan Johnson, told ESPN on Monday that Milton had taken his first steps since surgery, though it was unclear if he needed assistance.

UCF plays Memphis at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

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