Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Monday, December 30, 2013
Blake Bortles is unknown no more

By Andrea Adelson

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The man who could be NFL draft quarterback king reminds us once again that recruiting is sometimes as reliable as trying to hit the bull's-eye on a dartboard blindfolded.

Blake Bortles received zero scholarship offers from the big three schools in his very own state.

Florida passed.

Miami passed.

Florida State, like several other schools, thought maybe tight end.

Bortles, built like a linebacker but athletic like a running back, wanted to play quarterback. Only one school followed him closely enough to truly believe in his talent and his skill set, to see his full potential at the position.

Hometown UCF wanted Bortles to stick around Orlando, hoping he could elevate the program from perennial sleeping-giant status to fully awakened BCS party-crasher. He has done that over the past two seasons, taking the No. 15 Knights to 21 total victories, a first American Athletic Conference championship and a first BCS bowl game, against No. 6 Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday.

But he also has elevated himself into rarefied territory. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Bortles is rated among the top quarterback prospects for the 2014 draft, quite a jump for a player who started his high school career as a defensive back. Though Bortles has not announced whether he will leave school early for the draft or return for his senior year, there is no doubt he has developed into a top-notch NFL prospect.

And he did it while the folks two hours up the road in Gainesville decided to go in a different direction at quarterback, choosing Bortles' crosstown rival Jeff Driskel -- the No. 1 rated quarterback in the Class of 2011. Driskel was rated the can't-miss prospect. Bortles, one year older, was barely rated at all out of Oviedo High.

To continue reading this story, click here.