Florida starting quarterback Jeff Driskel has an interesting fallback plan if his professional football career doesn't pan out.
Driskel confirmed Thursday that he has signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox, who drafted the junior signal-caller in the 29th round of June's Major League Baseball Draft. But Driskel said he's in no rush to switch from the gridiron to the diamond, and will only pursue a baseball career once he's elected to give up football entirely.
"After my college football career is over I want to pursue a professional career in the NFL," Driskel said in a statement, per the Associated Press. "If I ever decide I want to play baseball, I want to play with the Boston Red Sox who drafted me in the recent draft."
"Nothing changes," Driskel added on his Twitter account. "I am still a full time student athlete at UF, fully committed to playing football."
There is one thing that does change: Driskel's contract with the Red Sox will eliminate his eligibility to play baseball for Florida. Driskel batted .330 as a junior centerfielder at Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Fla., and reportedly considered playing both sports in college before deciding to focus on football -- and, in fact, skip his senior season of high school baseball completely in order to enroll early in Gainesville.
That made the Red Sox's decision to take Driskel with the 863rd pick of the draft something of a surprise, even to Driskel:
Got drafted by the Red Sox today. Did not see that coming.— Jeff Driskel (@jeffdriskel) June 8, 2013
In his first season as a starter in Gainesville, Driskel posted a 12-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, completed 63.7 percent of his passes, and lost only one of the 11 games he started. But that one was the SEC East-deciding defeat to Georgia in which Driskel turned the ball over four times. His total of 1,646 passing yards ranked him 11th in the SEC.
So there's still plenty of room for improvement, particularly by draftable quarterbacking standards. But given his athleticism (Driskel also ran for a Florida quarterbacking record 177 yards vs. Vanderbilt) and pro-ready frame (6-foot-4, 237 pounds), there's still plenty of time to make that improvement. If Driskel is as committed to football as he says it is, it's going to be a long time -- and possibly forever -- before his Red Sox contract is anything more than an interesting bit of Gator trivia.