As a recruit coming out of Orlando (Fla.) Olympia, Joe Milton was listed as the No. 11 dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class and the a top 200 overall recruit by Rivals.com. Milton was part of a Michigan recruiting class that ranked No. 24 on the same site, and he was the only quarterback commit of the bunch.
From that timespan until now, Milton had undergone an offensive system change from then-passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton's scheme to the speed in space offense that Josh Gattis runs now. Over that time, Milton also had to work to learn what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the Big Ten.
On Tuesday, Milton spoke about his progression and maturation in Ann Arbor, starting promptly with what drew him to the Wolverines program in an interview with Coach Hayes, his old high school coach, on YouTube.
"First, it was the head coach, Coach Harbaugh himself, then it was coach Pep when he was here," Milton said. "We had built a connection, built a relationship, but my main, my main, my main, my main-- I say this everyday, it was the snow for me because everywhere in the NFL is cold. I would rather get used to it now than later and also the education. For those that don't know, I'm graduating soon, so that's another plus."
Throughout the recruiting process, Milton learned to trust Coach Hamilton largely because he didn't feed the future Michigan quarterback a grandiose idea about what he could accomplish for U-M.
"Coach Pep, he kind of approached me as a man," Milton said. "He didn't talk to me like I was a recruit that everybody always wanted and this and that and tried to hype me up. He told me what it is and what it int. To me, the most of what drew me to him is he kept it real from day one. He didn't like boost my head up and tell me that I was going to start as son as I get there. Straight up, he told me I had to work for what I want. There comes a point, and I did what I had to do."
Now that Milton is heading into his third year of action and is Michigan's presumed starting QB, he's had time to reflect about the transition from Coach Hamilton, who was his first quarterbacks coach in college, to the one that he currently spends hours and hours with preparing for the 2020 season with, Ben McDaniels.
"From the bottom of my heart, I truly respect Coach McDaniels," Milton said. "I respect him to the point that anything he tells me to do, I know it's right because of the person he is and what he's taught me so far. The past two years have been great with coach McDaniels. We had a little bit of a bumpy road, but now it's a straight road. He taught me a lot of IDing coverages. I learned a majority of that from him for the time being. Anything that I know now is from him, so I just want to say congrats to Coach McDaniels for helping me like that and I appreciate it."
As another sign of maturity, Milton took the time to show his gratitude for Coach McDaniels, intimating that he is responsible for the bulk of the 6-5, 243-pound passer's development. By working together closely over the past two years, Milton has learned from his coaches and from those around him, including former Michigan starting quarterback Shea Patterson, on how to be a leader.
"I kind of approach it the same way when Shea was here, Milton said. "I pick guys up when they need to be picked up, even when they don't. I've got smarter to understand whats going on personnel-wise, what schemes we need to run, ID coverages as a leader myself, I know how to fix things. When we go against scout teams, I know where the defense is at and how they're supposed to play things to our offense. "
When Milton steps on the field against Minnesota in a little over two weeks, he will be the product of a lot of hard work from Coach Hayes at the high school level, Coach Hamilton and McDaniels at the college level and of course his own dedication to learning the intricacies of U-M's offense as well.
Will Joe Milton pass for over 2,000 yards in Michigan's nine-game season? What will his touchdown-to-interception ratio be? Let us know!