Your first job out of college is always one to remember. For better or worse, your first taste of the “real” world is a new experience filled with a combination of excitement, nervousness and an array of other emotions.
Now imagine your first job out of college is to be the new quarterback of a National Football League franchise. Suddenly that entry-level position as an administrative assistant doesn’t seem so stressful. Blake Bortles, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ rookie quarterback, seems to be taking his new job in stride. In May, he was selected with the third overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Not only was he taken third overall, but Bortles was also the first quarterback taken in the draft. All of that would be enough for any young person to buckle under the pressure. Bortles, who doesn’t turn 23 until December, welcomes it.
“Obviously, as a competitor, you want to be the first at anything you do,” says Bortles. “So being the first quarterback is something you definitely pay attention to.”
Jaguars’ fans may remember Bortles from his time at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Growing up a short two-hour drive from Jacksonville, he was excited to be selected by one of his home-state teams.
“Being able to stay in Florida, being able to come to Jacksonville, it was the only place I had ever been to an NFL game,” says Bortles, “It’s unbelievable, and it worked out perfectly.”
Bortles is still adjusting to his new home in Jacksonville, and coastal living has made the transition smoother.
“I enjoy the beach. I was always going to New Smyrna and Daytona growing up, being from Orlando. I enjoy being around the beach, being around the water. So, I am happy living in Jax Beach,” says Bortles.
Bortles isn’t the only Florida-grown player the team is relying on for their future plans. The Jaguars signed a handful of other college graduates from the state of Florida as rookie players this offseason, including Bortles’ college teammate, Storm Johnson.
“It’s been awesome. The guys that we brought in from Florida have all been great,” says Bortles. “It’s really been a great rookie class. Everybody is working hard and working together, and it’s been a blast so far.”
Under the leadership of head coach Gus Bradley, Bortles and the rest of the Jaguars have a lot of work ahead this year. But for Bortles, success in his rookie season is all about taking things one step at a time and improving.
He says, “Something that Gus [Bradley] preaches is continuing to be the best and be your best. Be the best you can be.”
The green NFL quarterback may not be ready to lead the Jaguars to victory yet, but he certainly knows what he needs to do to get there.