Josh Portis has traveled far and wide in his football playing days.
The Woodland Hills, California native was once one of the most highly touted, dual-threat prep quarterbacks in the nation, and appeared to be well on his way toward building up a decent pro resume in the NFL playing for the University of Florida and the Maryland Terrapins.
That was until his Division-I college career was derailed by coaching changes, transfers, and some bad decisions on his part.
Ultimately starting over though for Portis, while it may have appeared to end his chances at making the NFL, it turned out to be a good decision on his part.
Portis joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” this week to share his enthusiasm for being invited to next week’s NFL Rookie Combine in Indianapolis on July 24th.
“It’s great to work out with the best competition, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Portis told Forrester. “I’m excited, anxious, and I’m looking forward to playing in the NFL on Sunday.”
Portis-whose cousin, Clinton, is an All-Pro running back in the NFL having played for the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins- saw his career as a Gator fall apart due to the presence of one Tim Tebow in Gainesville, forcing a transfer to College Park as he became a Maryland Terp for three seasons.
But Portis saw the same problem occur at Maryland as he did at Florida, where he could not break the depth chart in 2008 due to Chris Turner stepping up as the starter for the Terps.
This was after missing all of 2006 sitting out because of the transfer to Maryland. And in 2007, things seemed to get even worse for Portis, as a small but dumb decision on his part at the time may have cost him at chances at playing football for good.
Portis was caught cheating on a pop quiz while enrolled at College Park, and ultimately suspended for the year for violating the school’s Honor Code policy.
“Everyone knows about it. At Maryland, when I was there, it was a ten-point pop quiz. I made a mistake, and happened to copy someone else’s answer. Everybody moves on, but the school decided to suspend me for the whole year, but not the NCAA.”
“With a ten point quiz, everyone makes a mistake. Something major happened to me on my part, and I moved on from it.”
And he expects the NFL scouts at the Combine will also ask him about his mistakes at Maryland the same way Forrester asked him about it on “The Morning Reaction.”
And Portis knows that he has to face it head-on the same way he would face an opposing defensive lineman barreling down on him.
“I feel like if you’re just open and honest about off the field things, it will take care of itself,” Portis said.
And so far, since his departure from Maryland, he has been forthright about what happened. But in order to make the NFL, you have to prove that you can play football too.
But most schools wouldn’t take a flier on a guy jettisoned from two Division-I programs, let alone one that barely played. So instead, Portis had to eat “humble pie” and and try and make an impression on NFL scouts at the Division-II level.
Which is what he did.
Portis was ultimately invited to the NFL Combine mostly because of his play for the two seasons at the University of California in Pennsylvania, a Division-II program.
In those two years as a Vulcan, he had 69 passing touchdowns, a Cal U record. His 6,072 career passing yards were good for fourth best in school history.
He becomes the first ever player from the school to be invited to the biggest step in the process of becoming an NFL player.
Portis was actually eligible to come out for the NFL Draft after his first season as a Vulcan, but stayed on for a second year to boost his draft status.
Doing so helped become ranked as the second-best Division-II quarterback prospect trying to make an NFL squad.
“It’s been a journey,” Portis said. I went to Florida, Maryland, now I’m at Cal U. It’s been a difficult road, but I’m finally here. God has given me perseverance, and I continue to work hard and continue to live my dream.”
In reality, Portis said the competition was challenging at that “subdivision” of college football, and while it definitely wasn’t like playing in the ACC or the SEC, it still tested his skills.
“The competition obviously at the D-II level is a little bit lower,” Portis said. ” The atmosphere may not be as big, but D-II is still some pretty good competition.”
And even before his invitation to next week’s NFL combine, he has already had his NFL-cousin, Clinton Portis, giving him advice on how best to direct his preparation toward making an NFL squad.
“I mean you guys have been around him when he was with Washington, you know he’s a straight forward guy,” Josh said of Clinton Portis. “You know, he definitely doesn’t play around with giving me advice. He’s just been telling me to stick it out and keep working, that my time will come. He’s been a great addition and help to me as I develop my career.”
Josh Portis said he hopes to have as long an NFL career as his cousin.
“Obviously he’s given me some confidence because he’s been at that level of play in the NFL for a long time..that level for a long time with the Redskins and the Broncos. He’s been there for nine years as a running back which is pretty good. He knows how to take care of his body how to be mentally prepared, and how to go out and get the job done on Sunday.”
Portis recently participated in the former NFL PA game, now known as the “Texas versus the Nation” game on February 5th showing off some of the NFL’s eventual rookie class prospects.
Portis was 7-of-17 for 80 yards, helping the Texas team beat the Nation, 13-7.
In the game, he got a lot of comparisons based on his play and physical attributes.
“Players were telling me, “Oh, you’re like another Mike Vick. Big, fast, strong arm, move out of the pocket, pocket awareness…but I want to be a quarterback who sits in the pocket for a little awhile and run when I need to. So I kind of see myself as a Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick late in his career.
“I’m like a Tom Brady and a Vince Young. The kind of QB who moves around and throws the ball first…Aaron Rodgers is another late in his career and he has won a Super Bowl. He’s not really an actual athletic quarterback, but he has some mobility around the pocket so he can make some throws.”
But maybe Portis’ biggest asset so far other than his physical skills?
His perseverance to keep going and rebounding after making some dumb decisions in his life.
“I mean, just not giving up on your dreams, keep working hard…God has a role for you at the end of the day. You just have to believe in him and you have to work and strive for your success.”
Glenn Clark will check Josh Portis out next week at the NFL Combine! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!
And continue to follow all of Josh’s exploits at his website!