Blake Bortles has helped lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to a deep 2018 playoff run, and the Jaguars quarterback also has college experience leading a football team on a historic run. Bortles played college football at UCF, and led the Knights to its best year in school history at the time.
Bortles spent three years at UCF before jumping to the NFL, and UCF’s historic run came in 2013 when the Knights went 12-1. Bortles capped off the season by leading UCF to a win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, UCF’s first BCS bowl win. Bortles also led the Knights to an early season win on the road against Penn State. The cardiac Knights won seven of eight games that were decided by seven points or less. UCF went undefeated in conference play, and the Knights only blemish was a three-point loss against South Carolina.
His junior season was also his best statistical college season as Bortles completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Bortles also hurt defenses with his legs rushing for 272 yards and six touchdowns. During his college career, Bortles threw for 7,598 yards, 56 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
Bortles did not enter his junior season as a top NFL prospect, but jumped up draft boards after leading UCF to the Fiesta Bowl. The Jaguars selected Bortles with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Bortles was in the discussion for the No. 1 pick, but the Texans ending up going with Jadeveon Clowney. Jacksonville had planned to have Bortles sit for a season behind Chad Henne, but the plan only lasted a few games into the season before Bortles took over the reins of the offense his rookie season.
The 2017 UCF team topped the 2013 team’s performance, and have declared themselves National Champions thanks to the Colley Matrix, a former BCS computer. UCF became the only FBS team to go undefeated, and beat a No. 7 ranked Auburn team in the Peach Bowl. After UCF began their national championship campaign, Bortles had a funny exchange at a weekly press conference.
The majority of schools recruited Bortles to play tight end, and UCF was one of the few schools that gave the three-star quarterback a scholarship offer to compete at quarterback. Bortles was a local product, who played high school football down the road at Oviedo High.
Bortles did initially start at UCF as Jeff Godfrey, a dual-threat quarterback, had a stellar freshman season. Early in his sophomore season, Bortles won the starting job, and never looked back.
Bortles high school coach Wes Allen spoke with ESPN about Bortles desire to stay at UCF and compete for the job.
I know Blake doesn’t like to sit there and watch anyone play. He’s a team-first guy, and he was never going to rock the boat on anything. A lot of colleges that came through during the spring after he was redshirted asked me, ‘Is Blake going to stay at UCF?’ I went to lunch with him one day and asked him, ‘What are your thoughts?’ He said, ‘Coach, I am not going anywhere. This is the team I want to play for. This is the school I want to go to. I am going to work as hard as I can to help our football team.’
Bortles’ NFL career has been marked by inconsistency, but the addition of Leonard Fournette has help the Jacksonville offense look much more balanced. The 2017 season marked the first time in Bortles career he completed 60 percent of his passes.