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2014 NFL Draft: What You Must Know About UCF QB Blake Bortles

2014 NFL Draft: What You Must Know About UCF QB Blake Bortles
By Matt Johnson on December 14, 2013

Full Name: Blake Bortles

Hometown: Oviedo, Florida

High School: Oviedo High School

Class: (RS) Junior

Major: Interpersonal/Organizational Communication

Twitter: @BBortles5

via UCFKnights.com

Background:

Blake Bortles has lived in Florida all his life, from when he was born to his parents Rob and Suzy to now. He was born and raised in Oviedo, Florida just 22 miles away from Orlando.

While Bortles loved football, he would come home every day ready to take on his younger brother Colby. The competitive fire was always there for Bortles, demanding a battle and being angry any time he lost to Colby.

Played high school football against another 2014 NFL Draft prospect, Florida State outside linebacker Christian Jones, who played for Lake Howell High School.

As a senior he led the Lions to a 9-2 record and the team was named district champions. The Lions didn’t throw the ball a lot during his senior year, Bortles attempted just 233 passing attempts for 2,211 passing yards and 22 touchdowns.

Bortles did add an additional 143 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries as well. Bortles wasn’t just a star on the gridiron but he also loved playing on the diamond.

He played high school baseball for three years but stopped after his junior year to focus on football and prepare himself to compete for the quarterback job at Central Florida.

After the season was over Bortles signed with Central Florida on February 17, 2010. He wanted to stay close to home so his family could watch him play, and picked UCF over offers from Purdue, Colorado State and Tulane.

Bortles was a two-star recruit by Scout.com and not even ranked amongst the top 125 quarterbacks in the nation. The 2010 quarterback class also featured Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo, New York Jets backup quarterback Matt Simms,

Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Tyler Bray, Miami Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (junior college). Bortles had a 3.3 grade point average in high school with an SAT score of 960. He is majoring in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication

 

Statistics:

2011 (RS-Freshman): 75 completions on 110 attempts, 68.2 completion percentage, 958 passing yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions and 153.9 Quarterback Rating.

2012 (Sophomore): 14 games, 251 completions on 399 attempts, 62.9 completion percentage, 3,059 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 144.5 Quarterback Rating, 285 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

2013 (Junior): 12 games, 239 completions on 351 attempts, 68.1 completion percentage, 3,280 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions, 163.3 Quarterback Rating, and five rushing touchdowns

After redshirting his freshman season, Bortles saw the first live action in a blowout win over Charleston Southern in 2011.

Bortles came in late in the game, and completed eight of 10 pass attempts for 144 yards. He actually finished as the leading passer of the game, as the Knights relied heavily on the run in the win.

He wouldn’t see action again until three weeks later against Brigham Young when he came in and completed four of five attempts in the loss.

 

Bortles first significant snaps came in relief when starter Jeff Godrey went down, and it was a sign of just what Bortles had in store for the future. Bortles completed 24 of his 34 pass attempts with two touchdown passes and an interception, but the Knights lost to Southern Miss 30-29.

Bortles took over as the Knights’ starting quarterback to open the 2012 season and his first year as starter was definitely a success. He led the Knights to a 10-win season including a six-game winning streak. Central Florida’s 10-win season was enough to earn them a trip to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl against Ball State, where the Knights emerged victorious in a convincing 38-17 victory.

It was Bortles’ best performance of his young career, he threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns, and added another 80 rushing yards with another touchdown on the ground. He earned MVP honors for the game and finished his season with 25 passing touchdowns and eight rushing touchdowns.

Expectations were even higher for Bortles and the Knights’ this past season, but nobody could have quite expected just how much success Central Florida would have.

The team started out 3-0 with wins over Akron, Florida International and a close win over Penn State, before the team headed into a matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks and Jadeveon Clowney. It was a great effort but the Knights fell short losing 28-25 with two Bortles’ interceptions proving costly in the loss. The chance at a perfect season was over but the Knights’ bounced right back the next week against Memphis, turning their season around and starting an eight-game winning streak.

One of Bortles’ biggest performances came against the Louisville Cardinals and he walked out with the win, throwing two touchdowns to just one interception and gave the Cardinals the only loss of their season. Bortles finished the season with 22 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns, while passing for a career-high 3,280 yards and just seven interceptions. He was named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and named to the First Team All-ACC.

 

Extra Facts:

When asked before the year if he was scared of facing menacing South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney Bortles simply said “No, and you can tell him that”. Bortles didn’t lack confidence entering the game either but in the end fell short of a victory, though he played well throwing for 358 yards and two touchdown passes but also two interceptions.

After the heartbreaking loss to Gamecocks, Central Florida coach George O’Leary said  “He’s not a kid that gets too high or too low.

I think the South Carolina game he started feeling sorry for himself in the second half. And that’s something I spoke to him about”.

Leadership is a role that O’Leary really challenged Bortles to step into this this season as a junior and while it’s a challenge Bortles has embraced and is starting to grow into, it’s clearly something that is going to take some time and will be a question he will face if he declares for the draft.

While Bortles has earned plenty of attention in the draft community and is rising up the board, his girlfriend may draw more attention than he does.

Bortles long-time girlfriend and fellow Central Florida student Lindsey Duke has set football message boards and social media ablaze after photos were released from her photo-shoot with aXis Magazine.

Draft Outlook:

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 230

40-time: 4.78

Bortles climb up the boards has been accelerated thanks to a handful of quarterback announcing their intention to return to college next year.

It opens a door for Bortles to push his way up the rankings and show everyone why he is one of the best in this class.

When talking about Bortles he has started to earn more talk of being a little similar to Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

A strong athlete with underrated athleticism, who can roll around in the pocket and use his size to break out of sacks and keep the play alive. Even when faced with pressure, Bortles shows no fear and sticks with the play, looking downfield while he tries to escape from the sack.

When he has time to throw, you see Bortles arm strength and touch as he can effortlessly chuck the ball 50 yards down the field and put it right in between the numbers of his wide receiver for the big play. He can make great throws deep, middle and on short passes just displaying his accuracy and ability to control the zip on his passes.

Bortles comes from a small school and certainly has benefited from playing against lesser competition. When he played against South Carolina this year he did throw two touchdowns, but also had two interceptions that were extremely costly in a close loss to the Gamecocks.

Bortles still has a lot of room to grow as a quarterback, and will not be ready to start for an NFL team as a rookie. His footwork needs a lot of work, working with him on setting his feet and stepping into his throws will be key. Growing into a leadership role is another thing Bortles will need to work on in order to be a starting quarterback at the next level.

Bortles plans to announce his intentions after the Fiesta Bowl, but with the 2014 quarterback class getting smaller and less talented, it would be a tough opportunity for Bortles to return to school and be in a 2015 class that will be loaded with Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty and many others.

If he declares and has a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, Bortles could become a first-round pick with so many teams in need of a quarterback.

Matt Johnson

Matt "Bigfoot" Johnson

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"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard" -Kevin Durant
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