Knights to Watch in 2012 - Blake Bortles

June 20, 2012

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By John Denton, Knights Insider

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The start of preseason drills is less than six weeks away, so football season at UCF is right around the corner. And for many here in the football-crazed Sunshine State, that moment can't get here soon enough.

From now until drills begin in August, we here at UCFAthletics.com will be highlighting a UCF player to watch for the coming season and the expectations for that player.

The Knights open the season Aug. 30 at Akron. A week later the Knights travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face Ohio State and new coach Urban Meyer. The home-opener at Bright House Networks Stadium is Sept. 15 against FIU. And the Knights will close the non-conference portion of the schedule on Sept. 29 with a marquee home game against Missouri.

UCF football season tickets are currently available for as low as $140, while away game tickets are also on sale. For more information and to place an order, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com.

Here is a closer look at one of the key Knights expected to make a big impact this season:

NAME: Blake Bortles
POSITION: Quarterback
HEIGHT, WEIGHT, CLASS: 6-4, 223, redshirt sophomore

2011 STATS: The native of nearby Oviedo showed signs of star potential last season while sharing snaps with Jeff Godfrey. Bortles showed steady improvement as the season went along. Playing in parts of 10 games, he completed 75 of 110 passes (68.2 percent) for 958 yards and six touchdowns. His efficiency rating was 153.9 which was in line with that of Godfrey in 2010 when he finished second in the nation among all freshman quarterbacks with an efficiency rating of 154.3.

BEST MOMENT: Bortles came on in relief in the Southern Miss game and proceeded to lead the Knights up and down the field repeatedly. He hit on 24 of 34 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. His 13-yard pass to Ronnie Weaver put the Knights ahead briefly in the fourth quarter. Then, on the game's final play of regulation, Bortles threw a strike to fellow redshirt freshman wide out J.J. Worton for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Bortles' two-point pass for the win was batted down, but still his performance made it clear he had star potential.

WHAT LIES AHEAD: Bortles hopes to be the quarterback of the future for the Knights. Head coach George O'Leary likes that Bortles was prepared last season when called upon - such as the BYU and UAB games - and that he moves the offense efficiently. He threw just three interceptions in 110 pass attempts, so he is careful with the ball and very accurate. And he showed a willingness to attack down the field with the deep pass - something the Knights' offense needed last season. The combination of Bortles to young receivers Josh Reese, Rannell Hall and Worton along with newcomer Breshad Perriman could give the Knights a dynamic passing game for several years to come.

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.