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UCF's Blake Bortles won't be distracted by NFL draft talk

John Raoux/Associated Press
UCF coach George O'Leary says QB Blake Bortles will be focused on the bowl matchup and not NFL intentions.

During ESPN's coverage of Saturday's UCF-SMU game in Dallas, analyst Brian Griese said UCF junior quarterback Blake Bortles was his No. 1 quarterback prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft.

To that end, Knights coach George O'Leary admitted Sunday night that he has talked with Bortles about not being distracted by NFL talk as UCF heads to the Fiesta Bowl.

Last week, Bortles deflected talk about the NFL, but the Orlando Sentinel reported that "all indications" were that Bortles would submit paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board.

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UCF (11-1) won the AAC title and earned the league's automatic BCS berth; the Knights will play Baylor (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl.

During a bowl teleconference, O'Leary said he met with Bortles (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and his parents Sunday.

"He understands that we have a big bowl game coming up, that that's where his attention needs to be. His parents thoroughly understand that also," O'Leary said. "I don't think that will be a distraction at all knowing Blake and the type of person he is -- just the way he addresses things, the way he handles himself.

"I was very pleased with the meeting. I don't think that will be a distraction at all with him."

The Bortles-Bryce Petty quarterback matchup might be the best of the postseason. Petty, who started for the first time this season as a junior for the Bears, already has said he is returning for his senior season. Bortles is in his second season as the Knights' starter. Combined, the two have passed for 7,124 yards, 52 touchdowns and nine picks.

"He has great size and mobility," NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said of Bortles. "He doesn't have a huge arm, but it's plenty strong enough to make all the throws. The early background reports are glowing."

NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt is also intrigued by Bortles. Brandt examined what the 2014 class of senior quarterbacks might look like, and had nice things to say about Bortles. Time will tell whether we get to watch him as a senior at UCF, or as a rookie in the NFL next season.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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