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Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III drew a crowd at the Manning Passing Academy before he even showed.
There was his name card above a chair at the MPA Media Day last Friday underneath Joe Guidry Stadium at the Nicholls State campus in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Throngs of reporters formed a pocket around the Milton spot. Frantically, they threw out questions:
“Will Joe Milton be here? When is Joe showing up? Has he cancelled? Is he still throwing tonight?”
Finally, Milton showed. He is expected to do that and more for the Volunteers in the 2023 season as their starting quarterback – again. Milton actually was named Tennessee’s starter entering the 2021 season after transferring from Michigan over Hendon Hooker, who had transferred in from Virginia Tech.
Joe Milton III Was Tennessee’s Starting QB In 2021 Briefly
Milton completed 11 of 23 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown and rushed 14 times for 61 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-6 win. After completing 7 of 12 passes for 50 yards and rushing five times for 54 yards against Pittsburgh, though, he injured his ankle in the second quarter. Hooker took over, and Joe Milton never started again until 2022.
After Hooker injured his knee in the 63-38 loss to South Carolina on Nov. 19, Milton again became the starter. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown in a 56-0 win over Vanderbilt. Then Milton showed a glimpse of the future against No. 7 Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
He completed 19 of 28 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-14 win and took MVP honors.
“This is just another opportunity to showcase my talent,” Milton said Friday at the MPA before heaving some bombs at the Friday Night Lights quarterback competition that people are still talking about. “Showcase what I bring, showcase what Tennessee’s working on, and just put my front foot forward.”
He did that.
Milton first just enjoyed being around NFL quarterback legends Archie Manning and his two-time-each Super Bowl winning sons Peyton, the former Vol, and Eli, who went to Ole Miss like his dad. Peyton won Super Bowls with Indianapolis and Denver, while Eli won two with the New York Giants.
Manning Passing Academy Opportunity For Joe Milton III
“The aspect of just being around them is probably the best part,” he said. “You don’t get too many opportunities like that.”
Milton hopes to pick up in the 2023 season against Virginia on Sept. 2 where he left off in the Orange Bowl, a game that Hooker attended to support Milton and his teammates. He did not play, though, because of the injury.
“I played that game for him and Tennessee and for my family as well,” Milton said. “He put in a lot at that position for Tennessee. I hope to do the same. I’m a perfectionist, and I work for everything.”
Peyton Manning Ready for Joe Milton III Era
And Peyton Manning can’t wait.
“He was throwing with my son Marshall (last Thursday), and I mean 40 yards is like a little flick for him,” Manning said of Milton. “Just a warm-up. Had a good visit with him. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Joe. He texts occasionally. Pull hard for him, and boy really proud of him coming in last year after Hendon’s injury. He kept things together and a great bowl win.”
Manning believes the momentum Milton established in the Orange Bowl win will be critical going into this season.
“A bowl win can do so much for a quarterback’s confidence, especially going into his first year really as a starter,” he said. “So, I can tell Joe’s confident excited about him having a great senior year.”