Happy early Fourth of July! You may end up discussing Jeff Driskel signing with the Boston Red Sox at your picnics and ballgames and cookouts and barbecues tomorrow — because, yes, that reportedly has happened.
Jerry Driskel just called — Jason has committed to FAU and Jeff has signed with the Red Sox.— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) July 4, 2013
But don't worry: Driskel is still the Florida Gators' starting quarterback.
Jerry Driskel said that his son Jeff is still going to play for the Gators — the Red Sox will maintain his rights.— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) July 4, 2013
This isn't actually as uncommon as you might think, as there are plenty of minor leaguers who have become college football players, and vice versa. Russell Wilson and Brandon Weeden, both starting NFL quarterbacks, played minor league baseball, with Wilson doing so during the summer while he was at North Carolina State; one of Driskel's presumed backups for the fall, walk-on Chris Wilkes, is coming to Florida from the minors. Players don't invalidate their eligibility in football by signing or playing minor-league deals.
But this is a bit of a surprise, given how suprising the Red Sox taking Driskel in the 2013 MLB Draft was in the first place; while Driskel signing with the Red Sox doesn't change anything about his eligibility, it's a weird signal to send, and this story breaking in the late-night hours — WEEI's Alex Speier was first to report it, and the Orlando Sentinel's Iliana Limón Romero quoted Driskel's mother as saying he had not signed — the on the day before the Fourth of July feels like a news dump.
I would think, if this were something Driskel had planned out with Will Muschamp, Florida would probably have preferred to have released the news officially through GatorZone or Muschamp. Even if Driskel's coaches are on board, I wonder if some of his teammates might be texting him "Is it true?" tonight — and that's not ideal.
Still: Driskel's not going off to play summer ball, and almost assuredly won't leave the sport he's proven to be good enough to start for Florida at for one with a lot less certainty. So you can grill with the confidence that Driskel remains the man under center for the Gators. (Just don't forget that he's really the only sure-ish thing we've got.)
Update, 12:05 p.m. Thursday: Here's Driskel's tweet on the signing. Does it make you feel better?
Yes I signed with the Red Sox. Nothing changes. I am still a full time student athlete at UF, fully committed to playing football. #GoGators— Jeff Driskel (@jeffdriskel) July 4, 2013