UCF QB Blake Bortles said at the combine he wants to prove he's the top quarterback in this year's draft. (Joe Robbins / February 21, 2014)
The former Knights' passer hopes to prove over the next few months that he is the No. 1 passer in this NFL draft class. Former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel are also vying for the top spot in this year's group.
On Friday, Bortles stepped up to the podium to answer questions from a large media contingency at Lucas Oil Stadium. The questions ranged from UCF's breakout season, to Bortles skillset and how he might inspire a franchise. Bortles handled the spotlight well, pushing a message that he believes he will do everything he can to prove he is the best quarterback available on the board.
Here is the full transcript of the question-and-answer session. (The questions are paraphrased.)
Tell us about your recruiting process.
I wasn’t very heavily recruited. Had four offers, two were to play tight end, two were to play quarterback so was very grateful to Coach O’Leary and UCF for giving me that opportunity. And I wanted to repay him every way I could.
What went into the decision to throw here, and when did you make that choice and why?
My mind was always made up, it was just waiting on the right time to announce it. Getting information from a lot of people, but I want to compete. That’s kind of who I am, that’s what I want to do. I look forward to doing everything here. It’s kind of the way I was brought up and who I am. Throwing really wasn’t a question the whole time, it was just a matter of time until we told somebody about it.
You’ve seen UCF grow a lot since you’ve been there, right?
It’s been a great journey. The guys that were there before myself and the teammates I played with these past couple seasons have done a great job laying the foundation at UCF. Coach O’Leary has done a phenomenal job there in getting that program where it is today, in going 12-1 and winning a BCS game is huge. I know they’re on the path to keep that success up.
Do you belong here at the Combine with the top prospects?
One hundred-percent I do [belong], that’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m invited. I believe that I can compete with any guy here, and that’s why I’m doing everything I’m doing. That’s why I’m throwing, that’s why I’m running [and] doing all this stuff. Why wait to pro day when you have an opportunity to make a first impression here in Indianapolis. I grew up watching this as a kid and dreaming of competing in it, why would I sit anything out and do that kind of stuff? So just excited to be here and honored to be here, but definitely believe I belong here.
What is the skillset you have that make you the best quarterback here?
I think the skillset I possess is being able to extend plays, being able to handle a lot of offense. Having played at UCF, dealing with a lot of things as far as handling offense, making all the throws, being trustworthy, I think making the right decisions on and off the field, not embarrasing the franchise or your last name I think is huge, especially when you’re playing quarterback in the National Football League. I think those things, the competitiveness, are all traits to have as a quarterback. Hopefully there’s other teams that believe that.
We’ve heard about Johnny Manziel and the ‘wow’ factor and how he can inspire a fanbase. How can you inspire a fanbase?
I’ve got no idea. I have no clue how I could inspire a fanbase. I know I would do everything I could to win, and that should be inspiring enough for a fan base and make them as happy as they could be. And that’s all I would try to do. Dig in, find your role on the team and contribute in whatever way you can to help that team be successful.
You played in Florida and are from Florida, how will you adjust to playing in the cold if you go to a cold-weather city?
I think I’d be fine. We had the opportunity to play SMU in Dallas this year and it was like 12-13 degrees and we had no problems with it. That’s the coldest game I ever played in, we do play a lot in Florida and a lot around the Southeast, but we have some opportunities to play in some cold games and handled it well, so that was definitely a good thing to be able to experience.
Do you have a problem with sitting and developing over a couple years?
I have no problem with that. There’s no doubt I need coaching, I need help. I think everybody in the game does. There’s reasons why all these greats out there are continuing to play and continuing to work in the offseason, to get coached. 100-percent I need coaching, I need help and I’m going to work my butt off to do everything I can, like I said, to be the best I can be to help a team be the best that they can be.