2018 Recruiting: Joe Milton Comment Count

Brian August 17th, 2018 at 3:14 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Sammy Faustin, S German Green, CB Gemon Green, CB Vincent Gray, CB Myles "Spider" Sims, LB Cameron McGrone, DE Taylor Upshaw, DE Julius Welschof, DE Aidan Hutchinson, OL Jalen Mayfield, OL Ryan Hayes, TE Luke Schoonmaker, TE Mustapha Muhammad, WR Ronnie Bell, RB-ish Michael Barrett, FB Ben VanSumeren, RB Hassan Haskins, RB Christian Turner.

Pahokee, FL — 6'5", 234


24/7 3*, #449 overall
#15 PRO, #60 FL
Rivals 4*, #200 overall
#11 DUAL, #37 FL
ESPN 4*, #119 overall
#7 DUAL, #27 FL
Composite 4*, #204 overall
#9 PRO, #35 FL
Other Suitors UF, UGA
YMRMFSPA Pahokee Ryan Mallett
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Early Enrollee.





Joe Milton is either going to be the greatest quarterback in the history of the game or a malfunctioning sprinkler system. There is no in-between! Unless there is!

This is to say that Milton is one of those quarterbacks: the guy with the proverbial cannon arm. The cannon's dial goes to 11, starts at 11, and all numbers between are also 11:

Upon being asked for his assessment of the Michigan quarterbacks, redshirt junior tight end Zach Gentry immediately said, “Joe Milton throws the hardest ball of all time.”

Nico Collins:

"That boy can sling it. Those slants and curls ... you can feel it in your palms, they'll sting a bit."

SBN's Bud Elliott provided a thorough scouting report on Milton after watching 100+ of his throws at a 7 on 7 tournament:

...one of the strongest arms in the country. It’s really something to see in person. One of Milton’s receivers told me his chest hurts after games, and indeed some of his best throws were dropped by receivers who are not as good as the players he will throw to at the next level. The 6’4.5, 222-pound QB fires rockets all over the field. He can make throws others cannot. ... Right now, he is like a pitcher with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball who needs to develop his other pitches. ... If Milton can learn to change the speed and arc on his throws to fit the situation and read defenses more quickly, he could be a beast at the college level.

(That post has 20-30 of those passes in a video if you'd like to confirm or dis-confirm that for yourself.) Even Harbaugh, who's seen a QB or two, is impressed:

“Joe did fantastic, better than you’d expect a freshman at mid-year to be. He’s really talented. Very high ceiling. Big arm. You’d really have to be there to see it. You may have heard (it’s strong), but to see it in person … you’ve got to be there. Pretty good.”

There are passing mentions of 85-yard throws, naturally. There is a distressing high school completion percentage, naturally. And there is the usual scramble to go get the guy from the lingering pro-style wing of college football. Michigan won out and either has Andrew Luck, but with a good arm, or a paperweight.

[After THE JUMP: could be good, could be not good. But Pahokee!]

The recruiting folks are unified and uncommonly blunt about this. Rivals's Mike Farrell:

“Milton’s ranking is a potential thing. He’s a huge-armed kid who tends to scatter it around a bit. He isn’t overly accurate and needs some mechanical work, but at 6-5, 210 pounds, he can move around and extend a play, he’s hard to bring down, and has that cannon ... either going to be a ‘wow’ guy or someone who has all the talent in the world but can’t put it together.”

Steve Wiltfong:

The ceiling of new Michigan quarterback commit Joe Milton may be unmatched by his peers in this 2018 recruiting cycle. ... I’ve seen Milton throw twice this spring following a junior season where he completed just 46 percent of his passes (a blend of obvious inconsistent play and brilliant jaw-dropping throws). ...effortless stroke and perhaps the nation’s strongest arm. At Elite 11 Orlando throwing next to five-star Justin Fields, it was Milton who was more consistent in routes on air during the drill portion of the camp. I later saw him at the Adidas 7-on-7 National Championships and there were some tough moments, but there were a lot of wow moments.


Big, great looking passer and runner. Can drive the ball with a powerful arm and motion. ... Can make difficult throws to all areas of the field even when off balance. ...erratic ... Hot and cold. Must become more disciplined in his lower body. ...ideal measurables and athleticism.

Adam Gorney:

There might not be a quarterback in this class as physically gifted as Milton ... huge arm, he moves really well for his size and there is just something special about the way he plays the position. ...still threw every pass as hard as he could and it’s clear he needs to learn a lot about playing quarterback at the highest level. ...all the tools to be a future first-round draft pick.

Other takes in this vein include various camp reports starting out with "When Milton is at his best" or "When Milton is on" and then continuing to say he has more potential than anyone at a massive Orlando camp or stating his "upside is off the charts because of his size and incredibly strong arm." It seems like when Milton's in camp settings where he's able to set his feet against no rush and throw to top-end WRs, he shines:

Had drops not plagued Michigan commit Joe Milton, he’d of been strongly in the running for Alpha Dog honors. This is the best I’ve seen the 6-foot-5, 222-pound Milton look. He was consistent, rips an effortless deep ball, was working the sidelines, the middle of the field and looked to go deep too. Milton had great command on Saturday and had his receivers held onto the football they’d of walked out unscathed.

He should benefit more from increased receiving competency than most QBs, but unless your name is Jason Avant even college WRs can have difficulties with balls zinged a million miles an hour.


The skepticism will get little pushback from Michigan fans, who just saw another Spinal Tap QB fail to develop a changeup and eventually grad-transfer out. That goes double because Milton's senior season did not see a major step forward statistically. Elliott went on to reference Milton's dismal completion percentage by way of comparing him to FSU QB Deondre Francois, who had a 49% completion percentage as a junior in high school. Francois managed to get that up to 56% as a senior; Milton went from 46% to 48%. This is not super encouraging.

A couple of post-senior takes are also a little concerning. Rivals dropped him almost 100 spots after the season because he "has every physical gift, including a monster arm but he continues to make poor decisions with the football and [needs to] polish his footwork." A later piece on the class as a whole bluntly states "he just didn't have a very good senior year" thanks to a lot of bad decisions.

At least in Milton's case he wasn't at IMG throwing to future P5 receivers like Francois. When Brandon Brown went down to scout Milton he taped three Milton strikes that got dropped and another couple of throws on which a play was available but not made; the three drops alone are close to two points of completion percentage when you have under 200 throws on the season. Per Brown only two of Milton's 17 throws weren't catchable, although it sounds like a couple others were marginal. If 5%-10% of Milton's throws aren't completed because of context issues that's a considerable shift, and Milton's coach told Rivals that his best OL was 5'10", 201—it's safe to say that Milton isn't being carried around in a palanquin by other D-I recruits.

FWIW, Milton is not a dual threat QB despite a couple of the rankings above. He had net rushing of approximately zero until his senior year, when he managed about 240 yards. At camps he clocks in with a 4.8; a 32-inch vert isn't bad but Milton is a pocket passer first and foremost. He does bring a fair amount of escapability.

And then there's the Pahokee thing. Michigan's previous Pahokee players have been radically undersized or medically unfortunate. Martavious Odoms and Vincent Smith absolutely maximized the potential 5'9" guys have on a football field; if Milton can do that same that's another thing entirely. And Milton appears to be the same kind of guy. Pep Hamilton:

“You have some players that, they love football, and they always talk about their passion for football -- and then you have players like Joe Milton that need football ... every unaccounted for moment that he's not studying, he's focused on football. I get more phone calls from Joe Milton, and we have more football inquiries and conversations than probably any other player on our team. Football's that important to him."


"He treated the first practice like it was a game. You could see him over there studying. I mean, he was praying. It was like he was getting ready for a game. I loved it. ...he keeps improving. You can ask him to do something -- I suggest something to him, and the next thing you know you've got a video.

"A couple days later, he's doing it."

Harbaugh again:

"Every time you're around him, he's working on something. He walks down the hall in school and he's working a move or a drop. He's thinks about football all the time, sending us videos of daily progress. He's chomping at the bit to know the system, get the playbook. ...he's got an unbelievable drive about him to be really great."

Recruiting coordinator Cooper Petagna:

“The one thing about him is… and I’ve had a couple one-on-one conversations with him… he’ll stare you right in the eye. And he’s got a gravitational pull, which I think is necessary for any quarterback, especially if you play quarterback here. It’s a special trait. I look forward to that. I know he’s going to put in the hard work. I’m excited about the product he one day will be here.”

Expectations aren't just coming from the coaches; at Media Day Karan Higdon said Milton will “leave a complete legacy at the University of Michigan," which is quite a statement about a guy who just got through his first spring practice. Michigan put their money where their mouth is when they put Milton in front of the media during the spring trip, which is unprecedented for an early-enrolled freshman. Says somethin' about somethin'.

Also working in Michigan's favor here is Milton's age. He's 17 and won't turn 18 for a couple months; Wilton Speight was a full year older at the same point in his career, as are many DI QBs these days. Petagna told Sam Webb that he'd added three-quarters of an inch of height and a quarter-inch to his hands between his spring and fall campus visits. There's every reason to expect that Milton will improve fast.

Etc.: FWIW, Milton went to high school about two and half hours north of Pahokee but grew up in the muck and lists Pahokee as his hometown on his MGoBlue bio. Also I have no feels about Orlando so he's from Pahokee. Harbaugh:

"Nick Eubanks was walking by, and I say, 'Hey Nick, come here! Meet Joe Milton!' Nick's a big guy -- 6'5", bordering on 6'6", 235-238. Joe's like 6'4.5"-6'5". I could tell by the way Nick walked over, it was like, sizing him up. 'Relax, Nick! He's not a tight end, he's a quarterback!' Smiles broke out."

Why Pahokee Ryan Mallett? Mallett had a famously huge arm and infamously bad attitude in his single year at Michigan; after transferring to Arkansas he developed into a solid, if interception-prone, college quarterback who specialized at fitting it between two guys. He was drafted in the third round. Milton is the Pahokee version, which means he's nowhere near as polished, more athletic than the 100% pocket-bound Mallett, and a super nice and conscientious dude who will not get screamed at on the sideline by one of his WRs in his only start.

Shane Morris is the other obvious comparable. Morris was never able to dial it down from 11 and eventually transferred to CMU for a grad year.

Guru Reliability: High. Heavily scouted player and industry-wide agreement.

Variance: Vast. Sub-50% completion rate QBs often fade away entirely. On the other hand...

Ceiling: Vast. Hope you like 70 yard touchdowns with no YAC.

General Excitement Level: High. Chatter from inside the program is very encouraging and meaningful; I put stock in Pahokee.

Projection: Redshirt. Then it's up to Patterson. If he goes to the draft it'll be a three-way competition between Milton, Peters, and McCaffrey that Milton might be too raw to win, thus sentencing him to some additional bench time. If Patterson stays for a senior year a third-year Milton should be ready to go, if he's ever going to be ready to go, and if he's a strike then ain't nobody on this campus or any other keeping him from the field.



August 17th, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

I've said it a hundred times, but Milton reminds me of Harbaugh. I don't know if it's the single minded obsession with football, or it it's the way he scrambles just like Harbaugh did (see below). And if his upside is basically Harbaugh with John Elway's arm, and I'll take that QB all day everyday.



August 17th, 2018 at 4:13 PM ^

I'm trying to put Milton hype in perspective. I don't think either Peters or McCaffrey has been talked up the same way Milton has during their time here. O'Korn got a lot of hype during his year of ineligibility. Hard to say, but seems like the Milton hype could be legit. Could also just be people primarily in awe of his raw talent optimistically hoping he can take the next steps.


August 17th, 2018 at 4:24 PM ^

I don't think what we hear of his mindset is far from the truth; he sounds really focused. That 'want to' can pay huge dividends; it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. In his case, it sounds like we have a big dog with a lot of fight.


August 17th, 2018 at 6:02 PM ^

The most telling quote in the entire Milton profile was about his intense magnetic personality, and saying how important it is "especially for a Michigan QB."

I remember Peters sitting in the back, looking aloof and very clearly checking his phone during the 'Signing of the Stars' event and thinking to myself, "this is not the QB you seek!"

We'll see, I guess. Says here Peters will be elsewhere in 2019, probably dropping veiled negative comments.

Hope I'm wrong! 


August 17th, 2018 at 4:18 PM ^

That speed and size could be a huge weapon in some future game, a future tight contest where we need a first down. When I see him run I can help but think of Cardale Jones against Alabama, how effect he was running with the ball. He isn't Cardale big, but we don't want him THAT big, me thinks.



August 17th, 2018 at 4:29 PM ^

...if he's a strike then ain't nobody on this campus or any other keeping him from the field.

so that's a bowling strike then? not a baseball strike? the good kind of strike? unless you're the pitcher, i guess? then a baseball strike from the pitcher's perspective? that, or a bowling strike? asking for a friend...


August 17th, 2018 at 4:47 PM ^

I've seen that effortless throwing motion before with similar results... can't wait to see this kid in action!  If they put him in, they will definitely win the state championship!


scanner blue

August 17th, 2018 at 5:10 PM ^

I stood next to him at the last football camp in June as he was playing catch with Devin Bush. The thing you notice after how large a man he is are his hands, they are hugantious. Devin can't throw for beans, so Joe had to make numerous one handed grabs. I asked if he might line up a few times at receiver. His response "I'm Joe Milton, I play quarterback." That was it ...almost a "cool story Bro".


August 17th, 2018 at 5:35 PM ^

Sounds like he needs to learn to play football vs just sling bullets.  We also need to see if he can hold-up with a Bosa-type rusher in his grill as it doesn’t sound like he has escapability in his game given high school run stats. 

Other than raw arm strength, there isn’t a lot of indication to a high ceiling at QB.  Sugar Shane is the prime example - 50% completion rate at the P5 level of college football is not going to see the field.