"I just gave them the positives and negatives from my standpoint — that's my job," O'Leary said. "You're gonna be prejudiced as a coach, obviously. I gave them what I thought I learned...They had to make their decisions based on what I told them."
Not heavily recruited coming out of nearby Oviedo High School, Bortles redshirted his freshman year in 2010 and was Jeff Godfrey's backup as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
Godfrey initially flourished and was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2010 in leading the Knights to an 11-3 finish and Liberty Bowl win over Georgia. But he struggled during a 5-7 season in 2011 that saw Bortles appear in 10 games.
Godfrey briefly left the team following that season and Bortles moved into the starting role.
UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said that he saw Bortles' potential early on.
"I feel comfortable saying he's the best one I've ever had the chance to coach," Taaffe said. "I've had a few in the NFL, I still have one or two playing. But I think Blake's the best and I think he's got the best upside of anybody...in terms of still growing and still developing."
Bortles' departure leaves a huge hole the Knights' offense, though they lose only seven scholarship seniors from this year's roster.
Both quarterbacks behind Bortles on the Knights roster — Justin Holman and Pete DiNovo — are both freshmen. O'Leary said walk-on Tyler Harris will also be in the mix this spring.
Another freshman, William Stanback, is Johnson's likely replacement in the backfield in 2014.
Despite the losses, O'Leary said the future is bright at UCF.
"I think right now the university needs to understand while the iron is hot, they need to be firing it," he said. "From an athletic administration we need to be on top of things, and don't lose sight of what was just done and build on it for the next year."
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