June 22, 2009

Orlando quarterback has sights set on SEC offer

Terry Price made no promises to Blake Bortles.

Instead, Ole Miss' defensive line coach handed the Oviedo, Fla., quarterback a brochure for Ole Miss' football camp and made sure the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder knew he was most certainly invited.

And that was that, until Bortles showed up in Oxford, Miss., and wowed the Rebels' coaching staff with his powerful, accurate right arm.

"It was good," Bortles said Sunday night. "I got in there and threw and got the tour and all the stuff. I just tried to show them my best and show them everything I could and give them every opportunity to see me so I could earn a scholarship."

Bortles left Oxford without an offer, but he said Ole Miss offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kent Austin told him he's in the final two to earn a scholarship offer from the Rebels, who are expected to only sign one quarterback in February.

Bortles said Ole Miss' coaches told him they would be evaluating some other quarterbacks at the Rebels' one-day camp on July 25.

"They said they'd give me a call after that and let me know what the plan in," said Bortles, who added that he didn't ask who the other finalist for the quarterback slot was, "and they didn't tell."

Bortles has camped at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Kansas State, Western Kentucky and Tennessee this summer.

"I've just been trying to show everybody I can play," Bortles said.

Tulane has offered Bortles a scholarship as a tight end, while Central Florida, Purdue and Colorado State have offered him as a quarterback. Bortles said he's in no hurry to make a decision.

"I live five minutes away from UCF," Bortles said. "I'm just leaving everything open still."

There was speculation from other campers at Ole Miss earlier this month that Bortles' dream school is Tennessee. He laughed that off a bit on Sunday.

"That's where my mom's from and I have family there and I grew up rooting for them," Bortles said. "But to be honest, now that I have gotten started watching, I don't have a favorite team. I've always been an SEC fan and I've always dreamed of playing in the SEC."

Bortles completed 205 of 301 passes last season for more than 2,500 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

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