John Brantley was literally born to be quarterback for the Florida Gators.
His father, John Brantley III, played the position for the Gators in the late 1970s. Kerwin Bell, his high school coach at Ocala-Trinity Catholic, led Florida to back-to-back 9-1-1 seasons in 1984 and 1985. And his mentor, Tim Tebow, has won two national championships.
Brantley has been going to Gator games since he was 1. Finally, after 20 years, including two seasons on the bench, Brantley's time has almost come.
"Every time I walk in that stadium I get chills," Brantley said.
"I look at our seats up there and think about how long ago I sat in those things, and now I'm actually down here enjoying it. It's amazing."
Although Tebow is still the face of the Gators, Brantley is the face of the future. Brantley saw limited action last season as a redshirt freshman, but Tebow is teaching him everything from work ethic to leadership skills.
After last season's victory against The Citadel, Tebow had Brantley join him in his standard victory lap around Florida Field, high-fiving the fans.
"I wasn't going to do it, but he dragged me over there," Brantley said at the time.
"He wants me to do it whenever he leaves."
All eyes undoubtedly will be on Tebow at tomorrow's Orange and Blue spring game, his last spring game as a Florida Gator. But no player may be more crucial to the future of the Gators than Brantley, who broke Tebow's state record for most career touchdowns, with 99.
"When Tebow does leave, I want them to have the confidence to put me back there," Brantley said recently.
"I'm just trying to get better, so when I do get into the game I will be prepared."
Still, it's been slower than expected for Brantley, who was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2006.
"The best thing that could ever happen to a college quarterback is they get to watch a great one in front of them," new quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler said.
"And that's the plan for Johnny Brantley."
Despite his Florida ties - his uncle, Scot Brantley, also was an All-America linebacker at UF in the late '70s - Brantley initially fled the Gator Nation.
He grew up 30 miles down the road in Ocala, but committed to Texas in the spring of his junior year. Nine months later, he changed his mind.
"He realized that it'd be a lot nicer to have your mama doing your laundry every weekend than figuring out how you're going to do it 1,000 miles away," John Brantley III said.
"He's where he needs to be."
Brantley red shirted his first year while fellow freshman Cam Newton became Tebow's primary backup. Brantley also has had chronic elbow problems and missed last year's spring game after breaking a knuckle three days prior. Since the beginning of 2008, he's been playing with a torn ankle tendon that will require surgery.
Soon enough, it will be his time to shine.
Much has been made of Tebow's improved mechanics this spring, but Brantley has made great strides too, thanks to Loeffler, who tutored Tom Brady, Brian Griese and Chad Henne during his years at Michigan.
"I never thought my mechanics were that bad until he got here," Brantley joked.
But there's more to playing quarterback for the Gators than having perfect mechanics. Urban Meyer demands leadership, work ethic and maturity.
"I kind of thought he'd be at this point last year," Meyer said.
"But his professional approach is much better. The seriousness, the attention to detail, the fact that he knows he's this close to going in a game, and it's pretty serious."