User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Betting Tools

UCF's Bortles, Johnson going to NFL

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Blake Bortles arrived at UCF as a virtual unknown quarterback with modest expectations. Running back Storm Johnson was a transfer looking for a new start.

Both are heading to the NFL after leading to the Knights to the most successful campaign in program history.

The players announced Monday that they will skip their senior seasons and enter the NFL draft.

''After a lot of deliberations and talking with my parents, I've decided to try and pursue my goal to playing the NFL and capture my lifelong dream,'' Bortles said. ''I just couldn't be more proud to say I played football at UCF and it was the best four years of my life.''

In his second year as the Knights' starter, Bortles helped UCF bounce back from a narrow early season loss to South Carolina to win end the season on a nine-game winning streak and upset win over heavily favored Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.

Bortles was a constant throughout UCF's run to its first BCS bowl, helping the Knights survive in seven games decided by seven or few points. It included a 21-point comeback in an upset win over then-top 10 ranked Louisville. The 12-1 record was a program best.

He finished 2013 passing for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns. The season followed a sophomore campaign in which he tossed 25 touchdowns and threw for more 3,059 yards.

Johnson, who transferred from Miami after his freshman season in 2010 and after sitting out in 2011 spent his first year at UCF in 2012 backing up Latavius Murray. He was then elevated to the starting job as a junior this season and finished with 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also had three touchdowns in the Baylor win.

''This was a tough journey for me and I'm just super proud to have the support of coach (George) O'Leary and the coaching staff,'' Johnson said. ''It was a hard decision, but I had to make the best decision for me.''

Bortles sought a rating from the NFL Draft Advisory Board and reportedly received a first-round grade. Several analysts project him as one of the top three quarterbacks available in the draft.

Daunte Culpepper is UCF's highest-ever draft pick, having been taken 11th overall in 1999.

UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said recently that he saw Bortles' potential very early on.

''I told Blake when I first started coaching him that `You have got the ability, physical abilities for what they are looking for (in the NFL). You've got the talent to eventually take it to that level. It's up to you as far as your commitment and what you put into it,''' Taaffe said. ''And, you know, he's been fantastic. Seeing him grow over these three years, and develop and mature really into a guy who gets it now about what commitment it takes.''

Not heavily recruited coming out of nearby Oviedo High School, Bortles redshirted his freshman year in 2010 and was Jeff Godfrey's backup as a redshirt freshman in 2011.

Godfrey initially flourished and was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2010 in leading the Knights to an 11-3 finish and Liberty Bowl win over Georgia. But he struggled during a 5-7 season in 2011 that saw Bortles appear in 10 games.

Godfrey briefly left the team following that season and Bortles moved into the starting role. Godfrey later returned to the program as a receiver, with Bortles having cemented his place as the starter at quarterback by then.

Almost from the start of his starting tenure O'Leary lauded Bortles' poise under pressure and ability to move on after mistakes. It is a characteristic that O'Leary said only continued to grow this season.

Bortles' departure leaves a huge hole the Knights' offense, though they lose only seven scholarship seniors from this year's roster.

Both quarterbacks behind Bortles on the Knights roster - Justin Holman and Pete DiNovo - are both freshmen.

Another freshman, William Stanback, is Johnson's likely replacement in the backfield in 2014.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

Nelson: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh
Williams: ACC Report - Week 9
Williams: Big 12 Report - Week 9
Williams: Pac-12 Report - Week 9
Marshall: Tech Trends - Week 9
DiNitto: Opening Line Report - Week 9 Hokies visit Pittsburgh
Dobish: Betting Recap - Week 8
Nelson: 4th Quarter Covers - Week 8
Why Buy Picks From
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NCAA FB Hot Streaks
30-9 Totals, 37-15 L5 Sat., +1,265
17-9 L26 G-Plays, 60% +911 TY
10-5 CFB Record This Month
3-0 Friday, 14-7 Run, +2,089 Totals
5 Wins in a Row, 7-3 L10 Totals
9-3 Record Saturday
5-2 Saturday, 7-2 Week 8
13-6 Saturday, 12-6 L18 Totals
5-2 CFB Picks Saturday
7-4 Saturday, 18-8 L26 Totals
4-1 Last 5 CFB G-Plays
9-2 L11 CFB Guarantees
5-1 L6 Guaranteed Plays
2-0 Record Last Thursday
4-2 Saturday, 5-1 L6 Guarantees
NCAA FB College Football Expert Picks - Ohio Bobcats at Toledo Rockets
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kyle Hunter + 1265
Scott Rickenbach + 911
Pat Hawkins + 550
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 825
Paul Bovi + 675
Jimmy Boyd + 485
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Scott Rickenbach 60 %
Kyle Hunter 59 %
Michael Black 56 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 620
The Gold Sheet + 570
Marc Lawrence + 340
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
NeiltheGreek + 2089
Kyle Hunter + 1470
Joe Williams + 817
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 661
Scott Rickenbach + 380
Andy Iskoe + 156
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership