Tebow's turn to lead his dream team
Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 12:09 a.m.
He wasn't always the Chosen One.
Playing in the backyard with two older brothers, Tim Tebow had to wait his turn to be the one delivering passes. In his first Pop Warner game, he played tailback while Franchott Allen, the brother of former Gator Guss Scott, took the snaps.
And in his first year in Gainesville, Tebow made plenty of big plays but spent more time wearing a headset than a helmet.
Today, it's his turn.
It's his time.
“It's exciting,” he said. “Watching all the Gator quarterbacks in the past, this is a dream come true.”
Dream or destiny?
This was what he always wanted, to line up under center and step into the footsteps of so many before him. Especially the guy he grew up admiring.
It has been 11 years since Danny Wuerffel played for the Gators, but his jersey is still on the wall and his legacy oozes from the stadium. I called Danny this week to see what advice he'd give the kid who used to have Wuerffel's poster on the wall.
Number one was not to read the newspapers, watch TV or read magazines.
“I didn't my whole senior year,” Wuerffel said.
Dang, that stings a little. Tim, I advise you eliminate the TV and magazines but keep buying The Gainesville Sun. By the dozens.
Wuerffel also said he'd advise Tebow to focus on what is important. And third, “When you have a heart for people like he does and I do, you have to learn that 'no' is not a bad word.”
The only word in the Tebow clan today is “yes” because this isn't only Timmy's dream. His father used to sell snow cones at Florida Field back when Larry Libertore was the quarterback. His mother was a student at UF when Jackie Eckdahl was trying to succeed Steve Spurrier at quarterback in 1967.
“I wasn't paying much attention to the game,” Pam Tebow said. “I was 17 years old and didn't have a clue. It was a social thing. But I learned the game of football.”
A lot of people who have donned orange and blue shirts and hats have had that dream that their son is the top quarterback for the Gators. Some have even dreamed it for their daughters.
Few get to live it.
“I bet we will have to calm him down,” said Florida coach Urban Meyer. “That is a concern. I think if the human element comes into play he will get it straightened out really fast.
“Ever since he was a little boy he wanted to be the starting quarterback at the University of Florida and now it is here. I think that he will be fine. The best thing about Tim is that if he has a bad play, he is strong enough mentally to jump right back in and it won’t affect him the play after that.”
The excitement level for the whole Gator Nation is always like Nigel Tufnel's amp in Spinal Tap — revved up to 11 — for openers. But for this one, with a national championship still tailgating the 2007 season's bumper and Tebow at quarterback, it's up to 12. One louder.
Imagine what it's like if you're named Tebow.
“It's going to be exciting,” Pam Tebow said. “A mother's view is a little different. I'm going to love him whether he throws an interception or a touchdown.”
The funny thing is I believe she's not alone. Not only have Gator fans never wanted more for a quarterback to succeed, they've never been more sure he will. How many in UF history have been this popular before they ever started a game.
That part of it ends today. Today he becomes a college starting quarterback.
“We're all excited for him,” said Craig Howard, Tebow's high school coach at Nease. “He grew up waiting for this moment and now it's here. I'm not worried one bit for him. Everything he's done in his entire life, he has been ready for it. He'll be ready for this.”
He was born ready.
Contact Pat Dooley at 374-5053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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