Maybe UCF starting quarterback Blake Bortles is just saying all the right things to appear unselfish in the public eye. Or maybe he actually doesn’t mind the possibility.
I’m talking about the potential return of former Knights starting quarterback from the last two seasons, Jeff Godfrey.
“I’d look forward to it (Godfrey returning) because he’s a great athlete, and he’d make the team a lot better,” Bortles said after UCF’s annual Spring football game on April 14.
Whether Bortles is just playing nice or he’s genuine, he’s got one thing right: Godfrey would make the team a lot better.
Godfrey’s Return Would Only Help The Knights
As news broke last week that Godfrey was flirting with the notion of coming back to the UCF football program and repairing his relationship with UCF head coach George O’Leary, it left me with a smile from ear to ear.
I thought it was a shame that Godfrey was leaving in the first place and the fact that the UCF fan base and coaching staff was so quick to give up faith in the talented junior-to-be after one underachieving season was despicable.
So, when the Miami-product posted to his Twitter account that he wanted to return to UCF and it was up to Coach O’Leary’s approval, I immediately supported the decision.
Of course, returning to the program could be the least of Godfrey’s concerns whether or not Coach O’Leary gives the thumbs up, considering he may have issues just getting back into the university because of a violation of university policy unrelated to the football program.
But, if that doesn’t end up being a problem, O’Leary should be quick to welcome back the former Conference-USA Freshman of the Year, who led the Knights to their first-ever national ranking and bowl victory in school history, for two primary reasons: First, having a plethora of talented quarterbacks on your depth chart is never a negative thing. Second, quite simply, is because Godfrey never really left in the first place.
Still Familiar With The Playbook
Godfrey played in a UCF uniform less than six months ago and played in every game for the Knights in 2011. While, he conceded a lot of late-season playing time to Bortles after the Knights fell short of expectations, in large part to Godfrey’s struggles, the dual-threat quarterback was fully expected to at least be competing for the starting job in 2012.
If anything, there would have been healthy competition between Godfrey and Bortles, and the best player would have won the spot, instead of Godfrey just handing it over to Bortles by transferring from UCF.
And, it’s not like there’s been some long gap between the last time Godfrey played for the Knights- he still knows the playbook, he’s still an extremely dangerous player and he should be motivated to prove last season was just a sophomore slump.
Even more importantly, it would give the Knights three viable quarterback options in Godfrey, Bortles and Missouri-transfer Tyler Gabbert. The trio all has starting QB capabilities and give the Knights plenty of options in case one gets injured or doesn’t produce.
The fact also remains that Bortles, while showing flashes of potential last season, still isn’t proven. Sure, he performed well in the opportunities he received and had some notable games, namely the near-comeback he orchestrated against Southern Miss, but it’s not like he guided the Knights on a winning streak or helped them become bowl eligible.
Sure, he was thrown into the lion’s den last season, but I’m not 100 percent convinced he’s the team’s go-to-guy. The Knights still finished 5-7 last year.
As for Gabbert, who is the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, he’s had a shaky college football career, transferring from Louisville to Missouri, before entering junior college last year.
Time To Put Godfrey’s Mistakes In Past
This all points to the fact that Godfrey should not only be welcomed back with open arms, but that he may be needed more than the team thinks.
Godfrey made his mistakes, especially when his dad, Jeff Godfrey Sr. and his mentor, Luther Campbell, accused O’Leary of being racist, but it’s time to put that in the past and bring back a guy who not too long ago was hailed as the unquestioned Knights leader.
Remember, he still is the guy that ignited and guided the UCF football program to its best season in school history a mere two seasons ago.
“Some things were said. People say I have thick skin. I don’t if it’s thick skin or I don’t read a lot. But, I think the big thing is I always tried to give kids an opportunity. Sometimes, their bark is worse than their bite,” O’Leary said.
If Godfrey doesn’t have a problem competing for a starting position, is in good graces with Coach O’Leary and the rest of the team, then why not welcome Godfrey back?
But, most importantly, if Bortles endorses Godrey’s return, which he appeared to from his recent comments, then this move should be a no-brainer.
If he gets his university violations resolved, then Coach O’Leary, teammates and Knights fans everywhere should be pumped to have Godfrey back under center. Remember, just how effective Godfrey can be when he’s on top of his game.
“I’m always gonna listen to kids. They’re young kids. I do think if I hear the right things, I will always listen to kids,” O’Leary said.
Well, let’s hope Godfrey says the right things and that UCF permits him back into the school, because we all know what Godfrey can bring to the table. Just remember all the successes from 2010, and think who you want playing quarterback for the Knights.