Back in 2010, if you had asked Jeff Driskel where he saw himself being in five years, his answer would have likely been something along the lines of “playing in the NFL after a highly successful collegiate career.”
At the time, Driskel—who was entering his senior year at Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida—was considered one of the top overall high school football players in the country and he was also one of the highest ranked prospects in the 2011 recruiting class.
The blue-chip 5-star-rated passer was widely projected to be a standout player at the collegiate level. Unfortunately, though, as we’ve seen with many other highly touted prep players, those projections of greatness never came to fruition.
After a solid first season as a starter in 2012, in which he led the Florida Gators to an 11-2 overall record and a Sugar Bowl berth, injuries and inconsistency defined the latter part of Driskel’s collegiate career.
Like his predecessor John Brantley, the former Florida Gatorade Player of the Year was simply unable to step out of the imposing shadow cast by Tim Tebow—the most legendary player in the program’s history. It didn’t help that the Gator faithful, who once had high hopes that Driskel could be the heir apparent to Tebow, never seemed to fully embrace the Sunshine State native.
The thoroughly mediocre stat line from his lackluster 2014 campaign perfectly summed up his overall struggles in college: a 53 percent completion percentage, a 9-10 touchdown-interception ratio and a 103 total passer rating. Overall, the glaring mistakes and miscues simply outweighed the number of glimpses of great potential.
Following the departure of head coach Will Muschamp at the end of the 2014 season, Driskel opted to leave Gainesville as well in order to try to salvage his career at Louisiana Tech.
“Fresh start” are the two words that Driskel has uttered most often during his meetings with the media this offseason. He seems ready and eager to put the past, and all the pressure and criticism that he dealt with at Florida, behind him.
Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz has already handed the keys to the offense over to Driskel by announcing the former Gator as the team’s starting signal-caller before the start of camp. Now, it’s up to the former high school All-American to seize the opportunity and make the most of his skills, as he seeks redemption outside the bright spotlight of the SEC.