Brantley's father to have cancer surgery

Updated: February 26, 2010, 12:45 PM ET
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida quarterback John Brantley has much more on his mind these days than replacing former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

Brantley said Friday that his father, former Florida quarterback John Brantley III, has prostate cancer and will have surgery next month. Speaking to reporters three weeks before spring practice begins, Brantley said his dad is scheduled to have surgery March 10.

They keep trying to stress to me it's going to be fine, it's going to be fine, which it will be."

-- John Brantley IV, on his dad's cancer

"I don't talk about it too much," said the younger Brantley, who is preparing for the most important season of his career. "I try to keep it off my mind as much as I can. It's going to be a tough day, a really tough day. But stuff happens. He should be fine."

Although his family keeps telling him not to worry, Brantley said he can't avoid thinking about his father's health.

"We've got a very close relationship, so it's been tough," he said. "We're extremely close. I go down there as much as I can and I talk to him all the time. He calls me all the time. Sometimes, I wonder why he's calling [when he should be worrying about himself], but he wants to make sure I'm OK and he's worried about me."

Brantley, a 6-foot-3, 217-pound junior from nearby Ocala, completed 75 percent of his passes for 410 yards and seven TDs last season. He played in seven games, mostly in mop-up duty as Tebow's backup. He will step into Tebow's spot when spring practice begins March 17 and should make his first start Sept. 4 against Miami of Ohio.

He would be the third family member to start for the Gators.

His father threw for 1,334 yards and 11 touchdowns in 1978. His uncle, Scot Brantley, was a two-time All-SEC linebacker for the Gators (1978-79).

His uncle and his grandfather also have had recent health problems.

Scot Brantley, who played eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had heart surgery last summer to repair damage caused by two strokes and lost nearly all of his vision in his left eye. John Brantley Jr. is recovering from throat cancer.

John Brantley III's cancer is the latest blow to the family.

"They say don't worry about it, just focus on what's going on now," Brantley IV said. "We'll figure out the other stuff when it comes down the road. But it's always tough to just focus on that and not think about other things. But you know, they keep trying to stress to me it's going to be fine, it's going to be fine, which it will be."

Brantley, whose father taught him to throw at an early age, said his dad is trying to focus on football and not dwell on his health.

"He's smart enough to know what's going on. It's not like he can totally forget about the situation, but he's trying as hard as he can to focus on football and spring practice and not let it affect him too much," Brantley said.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press