Loeffler looks forward to working with Tebow

Scot Loeffler, Florida’s new quarterback coach, tried to recruit Tim Tebow to Michigan in 2006.

AARON DAYE/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, February 6, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 12:03 a.m.

Only those closest to Tim Tebow call him Timmy.

Scot Loeffler calls him Timmy, a sure indication that the new Florida quarterback coach is no stranger to Tebow. In fact, the two have a friendly relationship and a bond that goes back several years.

“I’ve known Timmy since his sophomore year in high school,” Loeffler said.

At the time, Tebow was emerging as a rising star at Nease High School and Loeffler, the quarterback coach at Michigan, came to Florida to initiate the early recruiting process.

Over the next three years, the two became so close that Tebow, the lifelong Gator fan, nearly did the unthinkable and signed with the Wolverines in 2006.

“I did (think I had a chance to sign him), just because of the relationship I had with Timmy,” Loeffler said. “I knew when it came down to it, his mom and dad were both Florida grads and he lived 55 miles from Gainesville. He picked the right school, without a doubt. It’s a perfect fit for him.

“When Timmy and I departed during recruiting, I told him we’d cross paths again. He agreed. We just didn’t know it would be in his fourth year in college. I’m just happy we got to cross paths a little earlier than expected. It’s good stuff.”

Fate has brought the two together again.

Shortly after offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen accepted the head coaching job at Mississippi State, Loeffler lost his job as quarterbacks coach with the Detroit Lions when head coach Rob Marinelli was fired. A few weeks later, with considerable input from Tebow, UF coach Urban Meyer hired Loeffler to become the Gators’ quarterbacks coach.

Loeffler and Tebow seem equally stoked about the reunion - and the opportunity to work together.

“I’m absolutely honored (to have a chance to coach Tebow),” Loeffler said. “It’s an absolute privilege to be a part of this program and also to coach Timmy.”

Tebow said Loeffler’s hiring was a factor in his decision to return for his senior season.

“It definitely was,” Tebow said. “I was involved in recruiting the new coach and talking to him. Coach Meyer really trusted me a lot with being in on that. Coach Loeffler is the best in the country. I’m excited about learning and getting to work with him and getting ready to go again.”

Tebow said he’s eager to learn from a coach who has developed future NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady (New England), Brian Griese (Tampa Bay) and Chad Henne (Miami) during his six-year tenure at Michigan.

“I feel Coach Loeffler can help me out a lot with that,” Tebow said. “Coach Loeffler has NFL experience, he’s worked in those systems. It’s something I can learn. Things that the NFL people want. ... I can work on that as well. That’s a goal. Still, my focus is to come back and win another SEC championship and hopefully a natty (national championship) to make it three out of four.”

Loeffler said he couldn’t ask for a better player to mentor.

“He’s the best college football player in America, without a doubt,” Loeffler said. “I’ve been watching Timmy since he was 15 years old. Watching him progress from high school kid to college player, his upside is going to get better. He’ll make himself better. He’s a rock star in every sense of the word. I’m just honored to coach him.”

Loeffler will have a chance to start working with Tebow in the spring. He would not go into specifics as to what Tebow needs to work on to become a more complete quarterback (and top NFL prospect).

“The wonderful thing about the quarterback position, from Tom Brady to Chad Henne, is that you’ve never arrived,” Loeffler said. “I don’t care if you’ve won five Super Bowls, won two Heismans or won four national championships, there’s always something at the position that you can work on.

“As a quarterback, you’re constantly trying to work and improve on technique. Timmy will do that. This guy is a workaholic.”

Will Tebow be a good NFL quarterback?

“You’re damn right he’ll be a good NFL quarterback. He’s got It,” Loeffler said. “There aren’t too many people across the country who have It. You’re really only looking at five or six great NFL players. There is no question in my mind he will be an NFL player.

“But we have to take care of Florida first. The NFL experience will come. The great players worry about today. That’s what Timmy Tebow will do. He’ll worry about winning another national championship for Florida.”

There have been varying opinions among the NFL types about Tebow’s prospects for playing quarterback at the next level. Some have questioned his mechanics, some have questioned his passing ability, some have projected he could end up playing another position.

Loeffler has his own opinion.

“He fits the same mold (as Brady and Henne),” he said. “In terms of having It, Timmy Tebow has It. Those guys (Brady and Henne) have It. It’s hard to describe what It is, but they’ve got It.”

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has said he does not see Tebow as an NFL passer. Loeffler shakes his head at that.

“Without a doubt, he can throw in the NFL,” Loeffler said. “There are several different styles out there, some base fundamentals you have to do. Does he have some things he has to work on? Certainly. Of course. It’s very similar from a guy coming from high school to college. There’s a transition you have to make.

“But can that kid play in the NFL? Absolutely.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or at andreur@gvillesun.com.

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