University of Florida

Embattled QB Jeff Driskel transfers from UF to Louisiana Tech

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel throws a pass during the first half of the Birmingham Bowl against East Carolina, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala.
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel throws a pass during the first half of the Birmingham Bowl against East Carolina, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. AP

Jeff Driskel’s enigmatic University of Florida career is over.

The embattled redshirt junior will get a fresh start at Louisiana Tech, transferring to play his final season for coach Skip Holtz.

Driskel, who graduated last summer, is eligible to play immediately in 2015, per NCAA rules.

“I look forward to the upcoming chapter of my life,” Driskel said in a statement.

“I have nothing but good things to say about the University of Florida and the football program there. I am grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to me over the course of the past four years. Although things did not play out on the field as I would have liked, I have no regrets on the choice I made to attend UF. Again, I appreciate everything that my coaches, teammates, strength coaches, athletic trainers, equipment staff, academic staff, fans and the University of Florida have done for me.”

The former No. 1 high school quarterback prospect from Hagerty High in Oviedo, Fla., finished his frustrating Gators career on a high note, commendably replacing injured starter Treon Harris in Saturday’s Birmingham Bowl.

Driskel’s stats were underwhelming (8 of 17, 48 yards), but he converted the game-clinching third down with a 9-yard keeper.

Before Florida’s 28-20 win against East Carolina, new Florida coach Jim McElwain announced Driskel had been granted his release from the school.

“We all have choices,” McElwain said. “I’m not going to hold him hostage.”

But the much-maligned signal-caller was often treated like a prisoner in his own home for much of his Florida career.

Driskel won 10 games as a first-year starter in 2012, but UF finished last in the conference in passing and the defense was credited for the majority of the team’s success.

In 2013, Driskel had three turnovers in a loss at Miami and sustained a brutal season-ending injury just two weeks later.

Chided for his inconsistencies, Driskel pleased fans with his duel-threat talent but also committed inexplicable turnovers.

He started the first six games this season, but after 12 giveaways over a four-game stretch he was benched in favor of Harris.

“The amount of adversity he’s had to go through in his career, to be honest with you, I don’t know if I could’ve lasted through that,” interim coach D.J. Durkin said.

“What he’s gone through, at his age, it just says a lot about him. It says a lot about our team. Our guys still believe in him, and he believed in his teammates. I was very happy for him how it all worked out. He was able to go in there and play in the game and really help us go get a [bowl] win.”

Driskel, who endured as much vitriol as any Gators player in recent history, was 15-6 as a starter, completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,411 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also ran for nine scores and 644 yards.

He is the fourth Florida quarterback to transfer since 2012.

Related stories from Miami Herald