UF's star recruit shows school spirit


Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
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Nease High School quarterback Tim Tebow (#5) sets to throw against Columbia High School in the second quarter at Tiger Stadium Friday, October 21, 2005.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Joseph Mammon, a diehard Florida Gators fan, has met Joe Montana and Dan Marino.
As of Saturday night, he can add Tim Tebow to his list of famous quarterbacks he's met.
Tebow, who's been a student at the University of Florida for eight days, doesn't have quite the status of the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks Mammon has previously met, but on the UF campus it's hard to tell.
Mammon, a graduate student in accounting at UF, and Natan Milgram, a computer engineering major, camped outside the O'Connell Center at 9 a.m. Saturday to be one of the first 1,200 students inside the dome to see the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators play Auburn University.
"We were sitting in the Rowdy Reptiles section at the game," Mammon said, referring to the courtside seats that are offered to the first 1,200 students through the gate at the Gators basketball games. "That's when a bunch of (football) athletes that the school was trying to recruit walked by. We started a chant for the athletes."
Since so many Gator basketball fans are also Gator football fans it didn't seem to matter what season it was or whether the fans were in a basketball arena or a football stadium.
The crowd, led by Mammon and Milgram, chanted for the potential UF athletes hoping to entice them to become Gators. Before they knew it, Tebow, a recently recruited athlete himself, was down on the floor chanting alongside two of the loudest Gator fans.
"He's a cool guy," Milgram said. "He's really young but also down to earth. He just came down and started hanging out with us."
After chanting to encourage potential athletes to come to the school, Mammon and Milgram and the rest of the O'Connell Center decided to make Tebow feel good about his choice to come to UF.
"The whole crowd just started chanting, 'We Got Tebow,' " Milgram said.
Tebow, who holds the Florida high school passing record with 9,772 career yards, is from Nease High School in St. Augustine.
He was heavily sought after by colleges across the country and was featured in an hourlong ESPN special. He remains sought after by sports writers around the country.
So many interviews have been requested that UF plans to hold a single press conference for reporters to talk to Tebow rather than granting each an individual one.
"The students are excited he's here," said Steve McClain, a spokesman with the University Athletic Association. "We've had a number of interview requests (for Tebow). We're not treating him any different than any of our other athletes. He's in a unique situation because of the amount of exposure he received before he got here."
As for Mammon and Milgram, they're just happy the famed young quarterback is here and that they got a chance to welcome him personally.
Both hard-core Gator fans have been attending and "studying" the football and basketball teams since their freshmen year five years ago.
"Our football program is incredible," Mammon said. "I just wanted to assure Tebow that he made a good choice."

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