Brantley works with QBs at prep camp in Ocala


Former Florida and Trinity Catholic quarterback John Brantley IV directs a drill at Saturday's Brantley Quarterback Camp at Trinity Catholic High School.

Doug Engle/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

OCALA — Long before he threw for 4,750 yards and 30 touchdowns as a Florida Gator quarterback, John Brantley IV was doing all he could to become the best prep passer possible.

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Former Florida and Trinity Catholic quarterback John Brantley IV directs a drill at Saturday's Brantley Quarterback Camp at Trinity Catholic High School.

Doug Engle/Staff photographer

There were extra hours spent throwing to his Ocala Trinity Catholic teammates. There were combines. There were film sessions with his father, John Brantley III, himself a former Gator and now the Celtics' head coach.

And there were camps. Lots of camps.

Now, a year-and-a-half removed from taking his final snap at UF, the younger Brantley is working with his dad to help provide high school quarterbacks with many of the same opportunities for growth he had en route to becoming the 2006 Gatorade National Player of the Year.

“Our goals are to give back, not just to Trinity or Ocala, though we'd like to do that also,” Brantley said soon after finishing lunch in Trinity Catholic's weight room at Saturday's Brantley Quarterback Camp. “But we mainly want to give back to any kid who is willing to learn and want to try to get better.

“It doesn't matter if they're a 1-star or a 5-star (prospect) — if they're willing to get better, we're more than happy to give back, using our years of experience to help them achieve their goals.”

The session began at 9 a.m. as the 12 quarterbacks (and the two receivers each brought with them) from as far south as Lakeland and north as Jacksonville worked through sometimes ugly weather and received on-field tutelage from numerous coaches, including the Brantleys and former UF and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Reidel Anthony.

“Mostly, I've worked with receivers on fundamentals, and then we got them with the quarterbacks and ran some routes,” said Anthony, an assistant for the Celtics in 2009 and '10 who now heads up the Reidel Anthony Wide Receiver Academy out of the Performance Compound training center in the Tampa area. “Like with all football practices, you want to take what the groups have done individually and mesh them together.”

And the players looked at it as an opportunity to improve in areas they might be lacking.

“I'm definitely hoping to get better in my footwork because I'm getting a little lazy there,” said David Atwood, a left-handed rising junior who recently transferred to West Orange High School from Foundation Academy in Orlando. “I want to get better with that and create a friendship with my receivers.”

Following the morning session and lunch, former Gator coach Ron Zook spoke to the athletes about recruiting and what they need to do to make themselves as attractive as possible to college programs.

He stressed that, in order, one needs to be a good person, a good student and then, a good football player. Now an analyst for CBS, Zook said that while recruiting he wasn't just going to ask high school coaches, guidance counselors, teachers and teammates about a prospective signee.

“I'm going to talk to everyone,” said Zook, who lives in Lake Weir and also works for Gateway Bank in Ocala. “I'm going to talk to the school janitor, anyone who knows you and can offer some insight.

“If you are doing anything wrong, it won't stay hidden. We're going to find out about it.”

Following Zook's speech, the players returned to the field until the camp concluded at 3 p.m.

“It's gone well,” said Brantley, who will host a second camp with his father on July 27. “It's great to see these kids still want to learn, even if they have to travel two hours. I know my dad and I would go to camps in places like Georgia and South Carolina, and it's nice to see players with the same type of drive.

“With electronics and everything, they can get all of these lessons online. But to see them here, out on the field doing the physical work in the heat and the rain to bust their butts to get better, that excites me and makes me want to give all I can to help them.”

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