Story by Terrance Bell on 07/03/2018FORT LEE, Va. (July 3, 2018) -- The term "mild-mannered" almost borders on exaggeration when describing Jacob Milton's persona. If the Fort Lee family member's outward character was a voice or gesture, it would be the equivalent of a whisper or an index finger pressed against pursed lips.
The Norfolk State University sophomore is polite, studious, unassuming, reserved and inconspicuous to the point one might wonder if he'll disappear into thin air.
There is a part of Milton, however, that screams strength, power and potential. He is a four-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion in the long jump as well as an honors athlete; a leader in the Reserve Officer Training Corps; and more.
Milton's achievements say everything the humble 20-year-old cannot or will not boast about himself. Others are only too willing to fill in the blanks. Col. George Milton, his father, said the scholar-athlete is oblivious to distraction when it comes to completing tasks and achieving goals.
"He's just a disciplined kid," said the Quartermaster School's assistant chief of staff. "He is singularly focused with a lot of God-given ability. He's taken the talents he has, perfected them as much as he can at this point, and is destined to only get better in those areas where he has already excelled."
Kenneth Giles, director of NSU's track and field programs, had plenty to say about Jacob's work ethic and achievements, particularly noting his ability to lead is beyond his years.
"The one thing about athletes is that we're measured by success; what we do in training and in the heat of competition," he said. "At any level, you want to get the accolades from your peers. Once you get (that), you've made it, and right now, he's definitely made it."
Jacob was named the track and field team's rookie of the year during his freshman year. As a sophomore, he was dubbed team captain, earned a most valuable player nod and was selected to represent the team at a student advisory conference at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. All that is in addition to claiming a spot on the athletic director's honor roll.
Anyone expecting Jacob to brag or even talk about those accomplishments uncoerced, though, would be wrong. He defers from addressing them directly, however, he does not hold back in conveying their level of difficulty.
"It's been a lot of long nights and hard work as well," he said. "I've been trying to balance everything in doing a college sport and being in ROTC along with all the other academic activities. It gets really chaotic, and I know I have to better learn how to manage my time. It's
just been a lot of balancing, making sure I'm getting enough rest and eating well while still being productive in all I do."
Time management and productivity as they pertain to goals were a feature of Jacob's upbringing. The middle child he has 17- and 21-year-old sisters Milton grew up in a single-parent household espousing discipline along with strong religious values.
"It was our belief in God and our faith; the fact that family is everything to us," said Col. Milton. "Nothing comes before the family. I cook every night; every single meal is eaten together. We discuss and talk about the day every single day."
Col. Milton, a single dad for the past 10 years, is a former enlisted Soldier and track and field athlete who attended Southern Arkansas and later Clemson, where he was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selectee. While raising his children, the colonel said he did not browbeat any of them to follow his chosen path.
"When God gives you a template, all you've got to do is fill it in," he said. "I tell everybody that. I literally took each one of my kids and studied them their whole lives. I always watched what their interests and strengths were. I always focused on their strengths, and never, ever forced any of them to do anything. My oldest daughter is a special effects makeup artist. Elizabeth (the youngest) is in the marching band. They all have these unique talents. I was very clear on not forcing any set plans on them."
Despite his father's efforts, Jacob is busy cutting a nearly identical career path. When he attended high school in Stuttgart, Germany, he chose track and field over football, just like his dad, and gravitated toward the high jump in similar fashion. When it came time to choose a college, Jacob eagerly decided on one that allowed him to participate as an athlete and ROTC cadet.
"I am really proud and happy he chose athletics on his own," said Col. Milton. "He chose the military on his own. I saw the talent that was there and supported him 110 percent."
The Army officer gets excited when contemplating his son's many gifts as an athlete. "As good as I think I am, he is way better. When I was jumping 7' 2," 7'3" or 7'4" (in the high jump), I was in my mid-to-late 20s," he recalled. "He is just 20 and is already at 7' 2" and a quarter. I didn't get over 7' 2" and a quarter until after college jumping with the Army."
While still in school, Jacob's goals are to improve his personal best and win the MEAC outdoor and indoor high jump events over the next two years hoping it will open an opportunity to compete at the Olympics. He's also dead set on finishing No. 1 in his ROTC class. The prospect is a mighty main course with plenty of side dishes, but he said he is accustomed to the heavy diet of hard work.
"It's been a lot, but I came in doing a lot," said Jacob. "It's the standard for me now, so I've just been trying to maintain."
Meanwhile, a proud father basks in the knowledge that his son's future endeavors may be similar to his own, but includes next-level goals like the shot at the Olympics. Whatever Jacob ultimately does, his actions and accomplishments are likely to say more about him than what meets the eye.
The following article provides additional details about Milton's recent athletic accomplishments: www.meacsports.com/news/2018/4/5/mens-track-field-norfolk-states-jacob-milton-jumping-to-new-heights.aspx