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Red Sox sign University of Florida QB Jeff Driskel

07.03.13 at 10:39 pm ET
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Jeff Driskel, the Gators starting quarterback, signed with the Sox after being taken in the 29th round of this year's draft. (AP)

Jeff Driskel, the Gators starting quarterback, signed with the Sox after being taken in the 29th round of this year’s draft. (AP)

The Red Sox signed 29th round draft pick Jeff Driskel out of the University of Florida, a player who is known for his exploits on the gridiron rather than the baseball field. Driskel is the starting quarterback for the Gators, for whom he started as a sophomore this past season and completed 63.7 percent of pass attempts while throwing 12 touchdowns and getting picked five times. The Sox’ selection and signing of Driskel represents a somewhat surprising development given that he hadn’t played baseball competitively since high school.

But the Red Sox saw a chance to secure the rights to a player who was a well-regarded talent as a high school center fielder. In signing Driskel, the Sox secured his rights if there comes a point when he cannot continue his football career. He will still play quarterback for the Gators as a junior in the fall.

Driskel continued a Sox pattern in the last two drafts of taking well-regarded football prospects with some baseball past. The team selected and signed University of Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson in the 18th round in 2012; Thompson played in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League for the Sox last summer and again this spring before deciding this summer to commit full-time to his football career. The team also drafted Brandon Magee, a linebacker out of Arizona State, and signed him in order to secure his rights should his football career conclude. For now, Magee is pursuing his football career after signing with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, but should he not get a pro football opportunity, he could enter the Sox’ minor league system.

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