Portrait of Persistance

Florida's steady John Brantley

There are many times in a players career where they will be at a crossroads as to what they should do or question whether they chose to attend the right school.  What happens when you replace a legend?? What must that crucible be like to go through to follow one of the most celebrated athletes in the history of college football?? For John Brantley of Florida, its been a  compelling study. He was more than familiar with the legendary Tim Tebow having played his high school ball right there in the state of Florida. In fact he broke Tebow’s record for touchdown passes by a Florida prep quarterback with 99, while attending Trinity Catholic in Ocala, Florida.

What’s made this journey so compelling is what he’s had to endure and yet remain a leader for the Florida Gators. The first thing that comes to mind is listening in stunned amazement, as he was booed at home against Miami of  Ohio. It was the first game of the post Tim Tebow era and the Gators were on their way to a 34-10 win. Yet in the second quarter the offense was sluggish and bogged down a few times. One time the camera panned in close to him on the sideline when the crowd at  Ben Hill Griffin started in and you couldn’t help but feel for him. “The Swamp” let the team have it and let’s be honest, they were on Brantley for not being Tim Tebow. We never heard that during Tebow’s years. You couldn’t help but feel for him on that day and it cast a pall over that game and the rest of an 8-5 season. Urban Meyer’s last year at the helm.

In 2010, Brantley had a sporadic year throwing for 2,061 yards while completing 200 of 329 for 9TDs and 10 int’s. Yet keep something in mind, he has always been a drop back passer and nowhere in Urban Meyer’s offense had he been developed plays that accentuated his talents. Not in the way that there were specific plays to aid Tebow early in his career. Think back to win Tebow stepped in and played as a freshman while Chris Leak was still there. They developed plays for Tebow that would grant him success early on, to build confidence and get to learn the college game. Brantley wasn’t afforded that luxury. Had he been, where would he be on the path to success right now??

Brantley scrambling for yards agianst Miami of Ohio in 2010

Yet one of the intangibles that did forge was  was  an unshakable belief in himself. A quarterback who was unsure if he’d remain in Florida’s future, stayed with his commitment and was awarded Offensive Co-ordinator Charlie Weiss. Weiss is an offensive guru with a serious hand on the pro passing game that accentuates Brantley’s strengths. At 6’3, 219 lbs as a drop back passer who can see over the rush, Brantley should throw for more than 30TDs this season. Weiss knows the passing game that will take him to the next level and beyond in the NFL. Think not?? Look, last year Kansas City Chief’s quarterback Matt Cassell was among the NFL’s leading passers with 27TDs and only 7 ints. Without Weiss, he’s thrown for 3 TDs with 5 ints in only 3 games. Seriously…not making that up.

Brantley will further develop in Weiss’ system and the SEC will be his foil as he improves on his accuracy. Do you realize that his efficiency rating is 148.1 this year as opposed to 116.4 last year?? http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/235158/john-brantley Does he have the right guy to elevate his game in Charlie Weiss?? Listen it was under his tutelage that journeyman quarterback Vinny Testaverde became a pro bowl quarterback in the NFL for the first time after 12 years. Then he developed a young Tom Brady into being a Super Bowl winning quarterback. What do you think he’ll do with a pro prospect like Brantley against 18- 20 year olds in the SEC??

With Brantley, the SEC  will be a foil as he develops his game. It’s almost a shame it had to come so late in his career but with a showdown with conference leader Alabama, what better time than to showcase his talent than now?? Showcase he’s dodged the burbs of football pundits and rival fans. Although I am a Miami Hurricane fanatic, I know a real dropback passer when I see one. He’s an excellent pocket passer who should do well in today’s game against the Crimson Tide. He will grow over the next couple of months into  a total pro quarterback prospect. Prediction…??

#12 Florida 4-0 (2-0 conf) v. #3 Alabama 4-0 (1-0 conf)

Is Alabama really ready for a quarterback who once outperformed Cam Newton?? Not, Gators!!

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