Tebow gets ESPY nod

Former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow celebrates after his overtime 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas that beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL playoffs. Tebow's big play was recognized by the ESPY Awards as this year's Best Moment. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.

Tim Tebow won the ESPY for Best Moment on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Tebow's win headlines the four Gator greats that were nominated for awards along with Abby Wambach, Mike Zunino and Christian Taylor, who were up for Best Female Athlete, Best Male College Athlete and Best Track and Field Athlete, respectively. Mike Miller was also on hand to accept the Best Team award for the Miami Heat.

Tebow, now a quarterback with the NFL's New York Jets, earned his Best Moment nomination last season in a game with his former team, the Denver Broncos. In the first play of overtime in his AFC wild-card playoff game against the Steelers, Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas on an electrifying 80-yard touchdown pass, which in turn defeated the stunned Steelers 29-23. Tebow's play went up against Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, Bubba Watson's Masters win and the drama on the final night of last year's MLB season.

Tebow now has his second ESPY award in his career and first as a professional athlete. He last won an ESPY in 2008 for Best Male College Athlete where he was just one year removed from his Heisman Trophy win. He was the only player in NCAA history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in a season and was a three-time Heisman Trophy finalist. Tebow continued to rack up the honors over his four years in Gainesville. He owns five NCAA, 14 SEC and 28 UF records. He also threw for 9,285 yards and 88 touchdowns in his four seasons at Florida, while having also gained 2,947 yards on the ground with 57 rushing touchdowns, both school records by a Florida quarterback.

Coming fresh off his stellar Gator career, reigning Golden Spikes winner Zunino was up for one more award as he went for the Best Male College Athlete award against Minnesota-Duluth hockey player Jack Connolly, Kentucky basketball player Anthony Davis, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Griffin, this year's second overall draft pick by the Washington Redskins, won the honor.

Zunino finished his junior season with a .322 batting average along with 19 home runs and 67 RBIs. His impressive performance earned the Dick Howser Award, which goes to college baseball's best player.

Zunino is not only the first Golden Spikes winner, but he was also the highest draft pick in Florida's history as he was selected No. 3 overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 2012 MLB Draft. He finished his junior season leading the team in batting average (.322), RBIs (67) and homers (19), and paced the Gators in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669). A two-time, first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league's All-Defensive Team, the three-year starter registered a .994 fielding percentage in his final season, with three errors in 510 chances, and threw out 20 runners who attempted to steal on him.

Wambach was up for the Best Female Athlete award, which pitted her against Baylor women's basketball player Brittney Griner, pro tennis player Maria Sharapova and U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn. Griner claimed the honor on Wednesday night.

Wambach was a sensation in last year's Women's World Cup where she scored a U.S. record 13th career World Cup goal in the championship loss to Japan. She also became the first player to score in all three knockout rounds in a single Women's World Cup and the first American woman to score in four straight World Cup games.

While at Florida, Wambach was named All-SEC and an All-American for four consecutive years. She was also named both the SEC Tournament MVP and SEC Player of the Year in 2000 and 2001. Wambach still holds the all-time record at Florida for career goals (96), hat tricks (10), game-winning goals (24), assists (50), points (242) and shots (468). She will be representing the United States in London at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Taylor was the final Gator up for an ESPY as he went for the Best Track and Field Athlete. This category included both men and women as Walter Dix, Carmelita Jeter and Jason Richardson are also up for the award. Dix, a former Florida State standout, was the award winner.

After his exceptional college career at UF, Taylor burst onto the international scene in 2011. After winning the U.S. title in the triple jump, Taylor marked his World Championship debut with a gold-medal performance. The 21-year-old American jumped a world leading 58 feet, 11 inches to beat defending champion Phillips Idowu.

At Florida, Taylor was a 10-time All-American triple jumper and holds 24 career victories overall. He also won eight individual SEC titles, three NCAA championships and two NCAA team titles. He will be representing the United States in London at the 2012 Olympic Games.

The ESPY's gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances.

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