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July 20, 2011Going into the 2010 season, Florida Gators redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley appeared as confident as a player could be replacing a Heisman Trophy winner and multi-record holder like quarterback Tim Tebow.
That is before he experienced what it was actually like to be the man under center, the focal point of everyone's attention and the man being depended on to carry an offense that was not properly adjusted to suit his skill set.
A plethora of speed bumps ranging from mishandled snaps and errant passes to poor protection from the offensive line and a lack of healthy playmakers shook his confidence further. Being removed from his starting role in favor of a three-quarterback system squashed it completely.
With head coach Urban Meyer stepping down, Will Muschamp taking the reigns and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis stepping in to lead his unit, the clouds have parted and Brantley's opportunity to succeed is once again shining through.
Helping him toward that goal is the support he is receiving from coaches and teammates alike.
Asked on Wednesday at the 2011 SEC Media Days if he stood by his statement in the spring that he had confidence in Brantley as the starter, Muschamp was unwavering.
"I feel the same way. Johnny had a really nice spring for us," he said. "John's very capable. Charlie Weis has tremendous confidence in Johnny and that gives me an awful lot of confidence, too."
Just minutes later, Brantley sat down in front of a microphone and concurred that the addition of Weis and his pro-style offense have increased his resoluteness and brought him back to basics.
"He's made the transition easier. He's made learning the playbook easier," he said of Weis's impact on him as a player. "He knows how different players learn. He's able to teach us the playbook in different ways to help us learn. Come August, he's going to teach me a lot more about reading defenses, watching film."
Not only are the player and his coach recognizing how significant the adjustments have been, his fellow teammates are paying attention, too.
"He's got his confidence back," redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson said of Brantley. "[There is a] big difference. With the off-season training, he's come in very confident - putting guys in the place they need to be, taking control of the huddle, being vocal. He's being the quarterback that we need him to be."
If all goes as planned and the off-season adjustments materialize into on-field production, it won't be long before Brantley also has Gator Nation believing in him once again.
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