Tebow had hand in development of QBs Newton, Portis


Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 10:05 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.

When the NFL scouting combine starts next week in Indianapolis, quarterbacks Josh Portis and Cam Newton will be there partly because of Tim Tebow.

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Florida's Tim Tebow yells to his teammates during the fourth quarter of the BCS Championship NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Miami, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. Florida defeated Oklahoma 24-14. (AP)

Tebow, who played at Florida from 2006-09 before coming to the Broncos, altered the course Portis and Newton took to the NFL's April 28-30 draft.

Portis was Chris Leak's backup with the Florida Gators in 2005. Portis wanted more playing time, and when Tebow signed with Florida in 2006, Portis transferred to Maryland. After sitting out the 2006 season to satisfy transfer rules, Portis missed Maryland's 2007 season because he violated the school's academic honor code. He didn't play much for the Terrapins in 2008 and transferred again — this time to California University of Pennsylvania, an NCAA Division II school. Portis finally shined, throwing 36 touchdown passes in 2009 and 33 touchdown passes in 2010. Now he goes to Indianapolis, looking to catch some attention.

Newton, meanwhile, went from being Tebow's backup at Florida to being the third Heisman Trophy winner in Auburn history. After leaving Florida, Newton enrolled at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, and won a national junior college championship there in 2009. In 2010, his only season at Auburn, Newton led the Tigers to the national title.

Newton bolted Florida after Tebow announced that he would return to the Gators for his senior season in 2009. In his one season at Blinn, Newton passed for 2,833 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 659 yards and 16 touchdowns. At Auburn last season, he accounted for 50 touchdowns — 30 passing, 20 rushing — while leading the Tigers to their first national championship since 1957.

Newton's spectacular 2010 season was marred by reports that his father, Cecil, offered to steer his son to Mississippi State in exchange for money. Newton's eligibility was questioned as a result, but he wasn't ruled ineligible by the NCAA for any games last season.

Tebow's time with the Gators sent two quarterbacks on extended journeys to places they didn't expect to go in an effort to get where Tebow is waiting once again.

The NFL.

Jeff Legwold 303-954-2359 or jlegwold@denverpost.com

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