Bortles: In His Own Words
Two years ago, the Oviedo Lions (FL) ran an old-fashioned Wing-T offense because the team had a talented stable of four running backs. Under center was Blake Bortles, a sophomore whose primary duty was to hand the ball of to his backs and get out of the way. That formula worked for Coach Wes Allen and his Lions, as the team made the playoffs. However, the group of running backs graduated and Allen decided to switch to the spread offense. The team struggled, going 3-8 as there was inexperience on both sides of the ball, but with the transition of a new offense came the birth of a star; Blake Bortles. As a junior, Bortles flourished in the passer-friendly system, throwing for 2,215 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine picks. It wasn't an easy transition for the team, but one that Bortles believes will help the team out this upcoming season. "As a sophomore, we ran the Wing-T because we had four really good running backs and that made it tough to throw the ball," Bortles told InsideKnights.com. "Last season was our first year using the spread offense and I give Coach Allen credit for changing to the new offense. There were a lot of new routes and stuff that we all had to learn, but we developed good chemistry as a team." Bortles said there were some tough adjustments to running the spread, but he thinks it will help him and his team out in the long run. "It's easier to see what's going on when you're in the shotgun. If you don't get back fast enough when you're under center, the defense will get to you quick. I think playing in this system helps out with college coaches. Obviously they'd like to see you under center some but a lot of colleges run the spread and it gives you a lot of passing attempts." Now that Bortles and his teammates are becoming acclimated to the new offensive system, the star quarterback is getting ready for a season of redemption in 2009, but before the year gets underway, he will be concentrating on baseball and will also be attending some camps to get the attention of colleges. "It's tough to miss the off-season while I'm playing baseball. I really like it, but I love football and it's difficult missing time with my teammates because we have a lot to work on. Baseball does give me more options though and I think the athletic ability translates, especially with helping arm-strength." Bortles will also be working on raising his stock amongst college coaches this off-season. "I have an offer from UCF right now and am receiving letters regularly from Oklahoma St., USF, Miami and Rutgers. I'm planning on going to the Nike combine this weekend and then I'll go to UCF's Jr. Day later that day." Bortles let UCF's coach Geoff Collins know last week that he would be attending the camp this upcoming weekend. Right now, UCF is the only school to have offered Bortles and the quarterback has a strong relationship with Collins. "He's a funny guy, he really cracks me up. Coach Collins is a good guy and he has really helped me out by telling me what camps to attend, it's nice to have that." What's nice for UCF is that Bortles lives literally right down the road from the school, although according to Bortles that has its pluses and minuses. "It's good and bad that I live five minutes away. I've always wanted to leave home but UCF is the only offer I have right now, so they are definitely at the top of my list. I have a lot of ties to the area and my teammate and close friend (Trevor Perry) has already committed to UCF to play baseball." Bortles said that he is very impressed with UCF's facilities and he is looking for a quarterback coach that he can develop chemistry with. With Charlie Taaffe taking the reigns as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, Bortles might be seeing more of the new coach along with Collins as the Knights will try to keep the local prospect close to home.