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A helpful hand

Brantley IV owes much of his recruiting success to his dad



Trinity Catholic senior quarterback John Brantley IV has verbally committed to play college footbal at the University of Texas.


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Parental Guidance

Trinity Catholic quarterback John Brantley IV is shaping up to be Marion County's most coveted football prospect to date. But it didn't happen by accident. Before Brantley was awarded a 5-star rating by Rivals.com or committed to play football for defending national champ Texas, his father was laying the foundation behind the scenes.

Sending out tapes, making contacts and actively marketing his son, John III, had a plan. Now it's all coming together.

Q: When did you know Johnny had the ability to play at the next level?

A: You never know, really. He's played ball since he was in fifth grade and you kind of get a gauge on it each year. . . . As he got better, obviously you start thinking about things and what you can do. We got in the best system for him at Trinity, where he could throw the ball and take advantage of some of his skills. The right system is critical.

Q: What were the first steps in getting his name out there?

A: I would send guys I trusted tapes (of Johnny) to get some good, sound advice about it. You know, 'how does Johnny need to improve?' I'd send it to guys like Coach Chan Gailey (Georgia Tech), Coach (Steve) Spurrier (South Carolina) and even Coach (Bob) Stoops (Oklahoma) out there for his staff to look at. This was his sophomore year, so there was an awareness, but I wanted the feedback to see what he needed to do, what camps he needed to go to, because at that point you want some awareness of where your son is at.

Q: First indications of interest from colleges?

A: You'll get a letter saying, 'come to our camp. . .' Mark Richt will send a little note or Clemson and then it doesn't take long for the word to spread. It kind a took off from there. Now it's up to the kid. Now they have to hold up their end of the bargain, because you can only do so much as a parent and as a coaching staff.

(Johnny's) taken advantage of it. He has run with this thing. He's gotten in the weight room, took baseball off, sacrificed to get bigger, and gave us a chance to go out and evaluate these schools.

Q: Why the early commitment to Texas?

A: Recruiting has totally changed. It looked funny with us in April committing to the University of Texas, but I guarantee it, two weeks later, that quarterback slot would've been gone. It came to that point where you've got to be able to react. That's the process. There's no secret to it, as far as putting in the time, the energy and the money - and I've done it. As a concerned parent, trying to give your son the best opportunity to go play at the next level, we made that effort and expense. Fortunately, for us, he upheld his end of the bargain.

Q: Is the process the same across the board?

A: To be fair, some of these (prospects) are not in a position to do what we were able to do, which is get out there and financially explore (our options). It's unfair to some of these kids. That was an advantage for us.

We basically give up our five official visits. We'll take one official visit, and that will be to Texas. People ask, 'well why doesn't this guy commit?' Well, a guy's not ready. He likes the process, he likes the attention. He wants to make a good, sound decision.

Q: Where does the burden of promoting a high-school player fall, with the parents or the coaching staff?

A: I think it falls on both of you equally. The coach has a big input. He has more at stake with those colleges than those parents. The head coach can make or break the deal early on. He can say, 'hey, he's the real deal. Y'all need to get down here and look at him.'

Now if a parent gets back some sound advice on 'how good is my son; does he have a chance to play at the next level?' I think (a parent) would know by their freshman year. You usually know early on who the players are gonna be. Then it's up to them to do the right thing in the weight room and the classroom to go to that next level to play. If a kid can get some guidance from his parents and his coaching staff, the (possibilities) are endless. But he needs to know, realistically, what his chances are playing at what level.

Everybody wants to play big-time college football, but your size or your ability might not give you that opportunity. But don't let that stop your dream. It doesn't matter if it's Concordia or Liberty or Newberry College in South Carolina, don't shortchange what he can do, because he can still reach your goal of playing in the NFL. There's a lot of small college players who make it to the NFL. Just because he can't be a Gator doesn't mean he can't play college football.

Q: What role do the camps and combines play?

A: I haven't really figured it out. They know the ones that are coming there and I think they watch those guys for rating purposes - the Rivals and Scouts - they do a good job of recognizing these kids. But they have a good feel of who they are before they get there. If a guy goes there and doesn't have a name, it's hard for him to be recognized. I mean, he has to do something just phenomenal to catch their attention. That's not to say it doesn't happen every camp, because it does, but they know who they're looking at when they get there because in most cases they know who's coming to their camp.

Q: Is that the future of recruiting?

A: I think you're gonna see some of that go away. I think the NCAA is watching it real hard. The number one thing is you need to sit down with your head coach and have him tell you where he thinks you're gonna fall in the scope of things. Where you can play college football? Is it Division I, Division II, I-AA, lower end Division I. Then you need to find those schools and go to their camp. As a parent, take them to that camp. Right after Johnny's freshman year, we took him to the Florida State camp, the USF camp, just for some exposure. Get into a camp setting. That gave Johnny a big advantage at the Nike Camp because he'd been doing camps since his freshman year. Because you're under the gun to perform on that one day. That one 20-minute session might be the difference between you going to Notre Dame or you going to The Citadel. Some guys, if you're not used to it, can't handle it.

Q: Do coaches recognize the difference between players, as far as guys who need some extra help and those who have parents filling in the gaps?

A: The good coaches do it. I hate to say it, but there are parents that are not involved. . . . Parents need to be involved because this is a huge decision. But there are some parents out there who have to take care of their own problems to support their family, and in some cases (the recruiting process) is not a priority.

We kind of made it a priority. We wanted to know what the options were out there and we went out and found out what we needed to to make a sound decision. If (a prospect) ends up at a different school - not a Miami or Florida - it's all a positive because they're still fulfilling their dream of playing football and, hopefully, playing on Sunday one day.

Q: How much time and money did you spend on Johnny's recruiting process?

A: I'd hate to put a number on it. It doesn't matter what that number is, because it was worth my time for us to get to that decision. I don't ever want to look back and say 'you know, I wish I'd spent more time doing this or that.' I have no regrets. . . . I spent a lot of time and money and effort doing it, but I probably enjoyed it as much if not more than Johnny. . . .You've got to be involved because your kids are always looking for somebody to give that support and help and knowledge.

Q: How has the process changed since you were recruited to play at Florida in the '70s?

A: I was basically recruited by about four or five schools in the Southeast and that was it. You didn't even think about it. (College coaches) would show up and you might see 'em at games and stuff, but it was strictly word of mouth. Let's face it, the Internet has created so much awareness. . . . It's pretty scary out there compared to what it was 35 years ago when we were doing this.

Q: How much contact did you have with recruiting services before Johnny's early commitment?

A: They'd call all the time. They end up getting your mobile number. But I think if you're truthful and play the game, they're fun. You're only gonna market yourself. If you're on the front page of Rivals.com, it's only gonna enhance, because I'm gonna tell you, probably 90-95 percent of the schools out there are looking at Rivals and Scout every day to see the movement of players.

When the word hit on Rivals that we were announcing (our college choice) in four days, the phone just started going crazy.

Q: What information do you provide when services call?

A: It was pretty standard on what you needed to say. Stay within the box, don't get carried away. Here's our favorite schools right now; here's where we're gonna go this summer; Love 'em all - love Alabama, love Georgia - he didn't show his hand too much. The services are good. But I'm gonna tell you, they can get old. They can wear you out.

Q: How did your connections help with the process?

A: It didn't hurt having the Brantley name. With (uncle) Scot playing eight years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and both of us playing at Florida. There were some advantages. And coaches look for that legacy. They feel like there's something to be said for that. Being a coach's son is an advantage. He had a lot of advantages going into it, but if he doesn't run with it, it all goes for naught.

Q: Where does Marion County rank in the recruiting world?

A: I think it's getting back to where it should be. Florida has a tremendous reputation. Not only speed now, but every phase of the game. It used to be that people came to Florida to find speed - backs and receivers and quarterbacks - now Florida has everything.

Marion County, I think they're doing their part. A lot has to do with our youth program, the way we're developing our kids gives them a huge advantage when they go to the ninth grade to compete. . . . It seems like Marion County's holding its own. We've got some very good talent around here, and it's gonna be around here for a long time as Ocala grows.


You can reach Byron Saucer at 387-2491 or email him at byron.saucer@starbanner.com

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Still find it kind of mind boggling that someone from that family doesn't go to UF ..... Tebow must have been the deciding factor?

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cal has 3 qbs on its roster that would start at usf today

cal has 2 rbs that could start at usf today

these upper tier teams know how to recruit

texas has been recruiting like this for years

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