Tebow named top amateur athlete

University of Florida's Tim Tebow celebrates after scoring his first touchdown of the day vs Florida State University at home.

(BRANDON KRUSE/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 11:58 p.m.

NEW YORK - While the Florida basketball team was losing to Massachusetts in the National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night, Gator quarterback Tim Tebow was winning a couple of miles away at the New York Athletic Club.

In the same city where he was named the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy in December, Tebow was named the winner of the Sullivan Award, which recognizes leadership, character, sportsmanship and strong moral character in the nation's top amateur athlete.

"It is humbling to be recognized for the Sullivan Award and to be associated with the ideals that it represents," Tebow said. "My parents and the Florida coaching staff work hard to instill the same principles in me and my teammates. I accept the award on behalf of my teammates and the entire Gator Nation."

Tebow also received the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Awards in December.

"It has been a blessing to be honored by many different organizations," Tebow said.

Tebow was one of five finalists for the award, joining Michigan State ice hockey player Jeff Lerg, 61-year-old track and fielder Philippa Raschker, Virginia Tech softball pitcher Angela Tincher and Oklahoma gymnast Jonathan Horton.

He joins swimmer Tracy Caulkins (1978) as the only other UF athlete to win the award, which goes to the nation's top amateur athlete.

Past winners of the award, which is given out by the Amateur Athletic Union, include Bobby Jones, Wilma Rudolph, Nancy Kwan and Peyton Manning.

A 700-member group, including the AAU board of directors, the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors, the AAU Sullivan Committee, past Sullivan Award winners and select members of the sports media, vote on the winner as well as fans whose Internet votes account for one-third of the total.

Tebow, Manning, Charlie Ward, Arnold Tucker and Felix "Doc" Blanchard are the five college football players who have received the Sullivan Award in its 78-year history.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or dooleyp@gvillesun.com.

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