Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel talks with reporters during the SEC football Media Days Tuesday. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BY DAVID JONES Florida Today
Published: July 16, 2013   |
Updated: July 17, 2013 at 06:06 AM
HOOVER, Ala. - Jeff Driskel was out in the woods, hog hunting with his girlfriend in early June around Arcadia, and was struggling to get reception on his cell phone as he tried to find where some of his buddies were going in baseball's first-year player draft.
That's when he saw his own name pop up - taken as an outfielder in the 29th round by the Boston Red Sox.
It created a stir to some Florida football fanatics, unaware that when Driskel went ahead and signed a deal with the baseball team, it was completely OK under NCAA rules to be a pro in another sport.
But he had no plans to go anywhere.
"I definitely didn't know it was coming,'' Driskel said of the baseball draft. "It didn't blow my mind. They drafted me in the 29th round. It's definitely a late pick. When they explained it, it kind of made more sense. Even if I don't play, which right now I'm definitely not, I'm all football, they aren't going to lose too much, because late in the draft you don't really expect too much from those draft picks.
"I signed with the Red Sox. I'm happy to be part of their organization. If I ever do decide to play baseball again, it will be for the Red Sox. ... I played baseball first, I fell in love with it, but I'm a football player. At the end of the day, I'm the quarterback at Florida. You really couldn't ask for anything more. I want to be a football player when I grow up.''
Driskel hasn't played baseball since his junior year in high school. He enrolled early at UF and missed his senior season.
"I haven't hit the ball in two years. Coach (Will) Muschamp and I were talking about that, and I think the last time I hit the ball was when he had us at his house and I was in his batting cage,'' Driskel said.
Driskel said it's time to move on and focus on football.
His hope is there will be questions about the NFL this time next year.
Even Muschamp, during Tuesday's start of the SEC Media Days, called the Gators Driskel's team now.
A year ago, Driskel was battling Jacoby Brissett for the starting quarterback job. He's gone, transferring to N.C. State.
Driskel is a junior who was the focus of attention of a large chunk of the 1,200 or so media at the annual event. Wildly inconsistent a year ago, he seems more relaxed and better prepared this time around.
"Jeff is extremely bright,'' Muschamp said. "He'll learn from (last year). That's part of the growing process of a quarterback.''
Driskel, who threw for 1,794 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for another 413 and three scores, confessed that knowing the job is his and not being locked in a competition changes things.
"It made things a lot easier and a lot clearer for everyone,'' Driskel said of the offseason. "You can say stuff that you weren't going to say before, or you can be a little bit more direct with some guys, with the team there's not going to be any question who is the quarterback. That helps a lot.
"You don't want to step on anyone's toes, you don't want to cross any boundaries or anything last year. But this year it has gone a lot smoother. It's a great feeling. Just knowing you're the guy, and everyone else knowing you're the guy, goes a long way.''