NEW YORK (CBS HOUSTON): Central Florida Quarterback Blake Bortles was taken 3rd overall by Jacksonville in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft.
“It’s so awesome. To be able to stay in Florida is unbelievable.” Bortles told ESPN.
Bortles shot up draft boards in 2013 with a good campaign at Central Florida and even landed in mock drafts at the top of the pile at #1 overall to the Houston Texans. Bortles will instead be taking snaps for the Jaguars.
Bortles set Seminole County records with 5,576 career passing yards and 53 touchdowns at Oviedo high school in Oviedo, Fla. The MVP of the Central Florida All-Star Game, he chose to stay close to home and play for the Knights with some programs considering him a potential tight end recruit.
He quickly proved to be a standout quarterback prospect. After redshirting his first year on campus, Bortles earned Conference USA All-Freshman Team quarterback honors while posting a passer rating of 153.9 while appearing in 10 games in 2011.
As a sophomore, Bortles was a second-team All-C-USA pick, starting all 14 games and finishing with 3,059 yards, 25 touchdowns, just seven interceptions, a 62.9 completion percentage and a 144.48 rating. He also rushed for 285 yards and eight touchdowns.
Bortles popped up on many peoples’ radars with an outstanding effort in an upset bid against South Carolina at the end of September that fell short. He later led a major upset of BCS contender Louisville, which proved to be the Cardinals’ lone loss of the 2013 season.
Ultimately, the South Carolina loss was the only one suffered by Bortles in 2013, as UCF finished 15th in the BCS standings and earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, where it upset heavily-favored Baylor on New Year’s Day, 52-42.
Bortles was named a first-team All-American Conference selection and named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year.
With his strapping frame and success in a pro-style offense, no quarterback captured the attention of the scouting community over the final month of the college football season like Bortles.
What scouts saw in UCF’s marathon victory over Baylor was a young quarterback with intriguing traits but whose technique may require a bit more polish before heading to the NFL.
He was given a second-round grade for the 2014 NFL Draft by the NFL Advisory Committee, according to Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage.
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