Photo via Orange Bowl Twitter/@OrangeBowl
Joe Milton III stood at the podium for the last time before he takes the field for the opening game of his final collegiate season.
Asked about how he was a little brother to Hendon Hooker last season, Milton knocked on the podium to get the Tennessee spokesperson’s attention out of frustration.
“Y’all keep trying me with the little brother stuff,” Milton said with a smile while regaining his composure. “(I’ll) try to fix my facial expressions I’m sorry. But I do the same thing I did last year that I do today. Nothing changed.”
A follow up about if he feels comfortable now in a big brother role on this team led to the point answer.
“I’ve been in that my whole life. I’m the oldest of seven,” Milton said with only a tiny trace of defensiveness. “I’ve been that my whole life so yes.”
Excuse Milton if he’s irritable. It’s late August. Fall training camp is over and kickoff beckons. There’s been eight months of the same reused and recycled storylines about the Vols’ veteran quarterback.
“To be honest, I’m just ready to play football,” Milton said.
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He echoes the thought of every coach, player, media member and fan across the country. It’s time for football.
But Milton has been one of the biggest talking points in the Southeastern Conference over the offseason. We’ve seen two drastically different Milton’s in his two seasons at Tennessee. He was horrid in just five short quarters as Tennessee’s starter in 2021.
He was excellent as Hooker’s backup in 2022 and performed adequately as the starter in a win over Vanderbilt and very well in the Orange Bowl against Clemson.
The dichotomy of performance makes him one of college football’s largest x-factors this season. But Milton is blocking out the noise and focusing on himself.
“Do I have a chip on my shoulder? That’s just because I want to prove that to myself that I’m good at this game and I can play for a long time,” Milton said. “Other than that, I don’t look at the outside noise. Anything that’s going on about Joe Milton outside of this football stadium, or football facility, is not my concern.”
He’ll soon get a chance to prove that to himself. The rest of the country, and particularly Vol nation, eagerly awaits the answer. Kickoff is six days away.