BRADENTON, Fla. — I watched more than 100 of Joe Milton’s throws over the weekend at the NFA 7v7 Southeast Regional tournament, but I only needed to see a couple to conclude that the four-star Orlando (Fla.) Olympia High quarterback has 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. That arm, with his size and athleticism, is why some schools are high on him. He has picked up 13 new offers in 2017, including Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Pitt, Tennessee, Miami, and Louisville. Milton is on track to enroll in college for the spring semester, and wants to get his decision out of the way in spring or early summer.
Strike from Joe Milton. Good ball. pic.twitter.com/aB2Th3Sxpr— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) March 25, 2017
In the clip above, Milton is able to fit this ball in despite the safety standing on the hash mark. From the time Milton winds up to throw, to the time the ball gets there 30 yards away to the opposite hash, the safety takes just two steps and a dive. That is serious arm strength.
I will be interested to see how Milton progresses. Right now, he is like a pitcher with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball who needs to develop his other pitches.
A perfect example came Saturday, when Milton threw a perfect 30-yard out route on a rope to put his team inside the opponent’s 5-yard line. On the next play, he had a wide open receiver 10 feet away and rocketed the ball at him. The throw was on the wrong shoulder and way too hard to catch. It bounced off the receiver’s back shoulder and up into the air for an interception.
Milton ran hot and cold. His offense put on a show against a loaded Houston team but did not score a point against the Florida Fire club.
Milton’s arm also lets him get away with being late on some throws. That luxury will continue in college, but to a lesser extent as defenses are faster.
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. But with two consecutive seasons at the high school level under 50 percent completions (46 percent as a junior), that is not a guarantee. In 2013, Deondre Francois had a 49 percent completion rate at Olympia High as well. While Francois improved as a senior, accuracy is still a major issue for him at the college level.
Milton has recently visited Florida, Florida State, and Georgia. He told SB Nation Saturday that all schools are even in his recruitment, even the ones who have not offered a scholarship. Given that FSU has not offered, that Milton has made two trips to Gainesville in the last two weeks, and that he plans to commit in the spring or early summer, UF looks like a strong pick. The Seminoles want Milton to throw at their camp in the summer. Any commitment before that would only be verbal, of course.
Milton told SB Nation that he made the return visit to Florida because “my coach tells me I need to be comfortable at schools that I like. I want to get used to the atmosphere and see I’m comfortable.”
“I talk with coaches Nussmeier, McElwain, Dixon,” Milton said when asked which coaches he is bonding with at Florida.
Milton says he’s been talking with Florida head coach Jim McElwain, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, and receivers coach Kerry Dixon II.
“They say my skill set is what they are looking at,” he said.