RECRUITING: Offers Pouring In For Brantley

In the past two months, Ocala Trinity Catholic quarterback John Brantley has won a state championship, emerged as one of the top returning quarterbacks in the nation, and given up one of his favorite sports, baseball. Despite his recent successes and the change of pace, he continues his walk in the same manner as those legendary quarterbacks who epitomized the very definition of cool under pressure.

(John Brantley profile)

Ask John Brantley about the four touchdown passes he threw and you're likely to get an answer in the same tone and level of enthusiasm as how he enjoyed a soccer game. He remains cool. Should we have taken a cue from the opposition? They have failed to rattle Brantley for two years now.

"He's a kid that things roll off of his back," Trinity Catholic Coach Kerwin Bell said about his star pupil after his sophomore campaign. "He handles things really well. Even when I get on him, and I'm pretty tough on quarterbacks, he takes it. He's got a lot of confidence in himself and that's an intangible that a quarterback has to have. He has that inner confidence that great leaders have to have. You don't have to be cocky. Nobody wants a cocky guy but you have to that confidence."

His father, John Brantley III, who is an assistant coach at Trinity Catholic, just shakes his head when he talks about his son's demeanor. John Brantley, if you remember, was a two-sport star (football and baseball) at the University of Florida in the '70s. He said that when he was Johnny's age that he was heavy into the recruiting process --- getting his hands on anything he could read or anybody to talk to who might have some insight into one team or another. He seemingly craved the information. Not so with Johnny.

Despite the emphasis on recruiting with the internet, the young Celtics star simply doesn't get stressed or even the least bit consumed with the situation. And why not? With offers pouring in almost daily from all over the country he is perfectly content to calmly let the situation play out. He has a few favorites but it is far too early to nail down a solid list of schools.

"I'm kind of interested in Florida, Miami, Tennessee, South Carolina, N.C. State, Texas, and Oklahoma," said Johnny in his normally calm manner.

Florida recently held a day where several of the top junior prospects visited the campus. He said that Florida's depth chart gives them an opportunity to sign him. Even after so many trips to Gainesville with his Dad and Uncle Scot, who also starred for the Gators, what did he take away from the visit?

"It went really good," he said. "The way they sell their school ... Urban Meyer does a great job and we had a bunch of fun. It was a lot of fun. The academic guy, team chaplain, and Dwayne Thomas talked to us. I've been around Florida for so long now that I know more about the school than most people."

The Brantley family visited quite a few schools last summer. They'll soon be sitting down to discuss who and where they'll trip to before practice begins in August.

"We're (his family) trying to plan a trip to Texas," Johnny Brantley said. "We're just not sure yet though. I'll probably go to Florida because they're right up the road, but I'm not sure about any others. Me and my dad are going to have to talk about that. The Nike Camp is in Gainesville in May so I'll go to that."

He shared the quarterback duties as a sophomore and took over the team on a permanent basis this past season. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards and 58 touchdowns, while tossing just six interceptions. Anybody who has seen him has to be impressed by his mechanics.

"My sophomore year, I think that was good for me to ease into it just the way it happened to get ready for varsity," Brantley recalled. "This year I was ready to do what I was doing out on the field and feel really comfortable."

Many have questioned his running ability. He is not asked to run in Trinity Catholic's offensive system. However, he has the ability to run when necessary. For what it's worth, Trinity coaches have been told that he is faster than former Utah quarterback Alex Smith. Last week, Brantley played in an Ocala football tournament where he lined up at wide receiver throughout the event because he was the fastest player on the field. Speed is something that he'll continue to work on this summer because he knows it has long range benefits at the next level.

"I know that I have to improve my size and get bigger," he said. "I just need to get a stronger arm, I feel like. That arm strength will come with weightlifting and throwing more, and I need to work on my speed. I decided to drop out of baseball so that I could concentrate on weightlifting. I've thrown a couple of days here and there. But, I'm going to start throwing now on a regular basis. All of this weightlifting is going to make my shoulder tight. I'll be bringing Dion (LeCorn) and Lex (Peek) and a bunch of people out to the field and throw more often."

While he is without question a cool, comfortable leader that is not to be mistaken as a lack of competitive spirit. He already has his sights set on a return trip to the state championship game. He wants to lead the Celtics to back-to-back titles.

"I tell them [teammates] that it felt good to win one so why wouldn't you want to win another one?" he says. "I try to make sure they all get up to the weight room and do the right workout everyday. Everyday we're supposed to be up there. So you just have to think about it. Do you want to win another one?"

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