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Tebow makes Heisman history

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Tebow makes Heisman history

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer

Sat Dec 8, 10:59 PM ET

NEW YORK - Tim Tebow took a few deep breaths, steadied himself, then plowed through his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech much the same way he takes on tacklers — fast and furious.

In rapid fire, Florida's sophomore quarterback thanked everyone he could think of, some of them twice. When it came time to take hold of the 25-pound bronze statue, he looked as if he wasn't sure whether he should run with the prize or throw it. He does both so well.

Florida's folk-hero quarterback with the rugged running style and magnetic personality became the first sophomore to win the Heisman on Saturday night.

"I am fortunate, fortunate for a lot of things," Tebow said. "God truly blessed me and this just adds on. It's an honor. I'm so happy to be here."

Since 1935, when Jay Berwanger of Chicago won the first Heisman, every winner had been a junior or senior — until Tebow, who picked up quite a souvenir on his first trip to New York.

"It's surreal a little bit," he said. "It's just overwhelming."

He beat out Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the first player since 1949 to finish second in consecutive seasons. Tebow received 1,957 points and 462 first-place votes to McFadden's 1,703 points and 291 first-place votes.

"I think it's awesome you're known forever as a Heisman Trophy winner," Tebow said.

Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was third, and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel fourth.

A year after Tebow helped Florida win a national title, and in his first season as the Gators' starter, the chiseled 235-pound quarterback in a fullback's body put together a historic campaign. He's the first major college player to run for 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season.

Tebow had both his parents and all four siblings with him in New York. Mom and Dad got hugs after his name was called.

"It was cool to have them all there," Tebow said. "I haven't had a chance to hug them all yet but I am looking forward to that."

In an unpredictable college football season, the Heisman race was as unsettled as the national title chase. Tebow emerged as the front-runner even though Florida (9-3) stumbled early.

Six of the last seven Heisman winners picked up their bronze statues on the way to playing in the national championship game. Tebow won't get that chance this season, but Heisman voters didn't hold Florida's failure to defend its national title against him.

McFadden slumped in October before finishing with a huge November, capping his season with a spectacular performance — 206 yards rushing, three touchdowns and a TD pass — in the Razorbacks' 50-48 triple-overtime win over No. 1 LSU. It seems doubtful the junior with sprinter's speed will return to Arkansas next year to make another run at the Heisman. Not with some NFL team likely to make him a top-10 draft pick.

"I'm just proud to be here again," McFadden said.

Brennan and Daniel each passed for over 4,000 yards and led their teams to breakout seasons.

But no player was more important to his team than Tebow.

The closest he came to a bad game came in a 28-24 loss at LSU, when he completed 12 of 26 passes for 158 yards, throwing for two scores and running for another. He finished with a school-record 3,970 yards of total offense and accounted for 51 touchdowns.

Simply put, he's the perfect quarterback for coach Urban Meyer's spread-option offense.

"I've heard the word system. I've got news, that's got nothing to do with Heisman trophies and great offenses," Meyer said. "Tim Tebow can run whatever offense he needs to run."

Florida fans might argue Tebow is just plain perfect.

Tebowisms have become all the rage with Gators fans on the Internet. A sampling: Superman wears Tim Tebow pajamas. Tim Tebow has counted to infinity ... twice. Tim Tebow ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.

And if joining Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel as the only Florida players to win the Heisman Trophy wasn't enough to make Tebow the most popular man in Gainesville, there's one more reason for Gators fans to be excited: the promise of two more years of Tebow, who has said he has no plans to leave school after his junior season.

Tebow idolized Wuerffel, and the former Gator was the first Heisman winner the new member of the club hugged when he went to accept the trophy.

"That was special," Tebow said. "He was a big role model for me growing up."

The legend of Tebow started at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where he once finished a game playing on a broken leg.

Homeschooled by missionary parents who run an orphanage in the Philippines, Tebow took advantage of a Florida state law to play for Nease, about 90 miles from the University of Florida campus.

Tebow has worked and preached at his parents' orphanage since he was 15. He regularly speaks at schools and delivered his message of faith at a prison in Florida earlier this year.

"Tim Tebow is the real American hero," said Tebow's high school football coach, Craig Howard. "He's the real deal."

Tebow arrived in Gainesville with superstar status, and Gators fans could hardly wait to see their quarterback of the future.

In a part-time role as a complement to Chris Leak, Tebow played with a fiery passion. He bowled over defenders and bounced around the field, fists pumping and arms waving.

He ran for 469 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman, throwing only enough to take advantage of defenses stacked to stop him from running.

This season, the Gators became Tebow's team and at times he was a one-man offense.

He completed 68 percent of his attempts for 3,132 yards and 29 touchdowns and continued to run with reckless abandon, even while playing the second half of the season with a very sore shoulder.

Compensating for the Gators' lack of a reliable tailback, Tebow led Florida with 838 yards rushing and set a Southeastern Conference record with 22 touchdowns. With speed and a strong arm to go with his power and grit, Tebow is part throwback to the days of single-wing football and part 21st century prototype for the position.

Add winning the Heisman as a sophomore, and Tebow is truly one of a kind.

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When he completed the 20/20 TD mark, I think he had the Heisman wrapped up. As much of a beast McFadden is, it was going to be hard to compete with something never done in the HISTORY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL !!! That is saying something. The fact he is a sophomore, doesn't bother me one bit. He was deserving...


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I still think Brennan deserved it more, he set a NCAA carrer mark for yardage, had more yardage and passing TD's, a better completion % and was much more important to the success of an undefeated team than Tebow was to a team that lost 3 games with him at QB. I just dont think that Florida would have lost more than four games without Tebow, that is not the most important player in college football.

I think that to many experts are blinded by thier love for anything SEC related to make an attempt to even look past Tebow or McFadden.

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The thing is, who did Brennan play against to gather those stats ?? Once again, the 20/20 mark seems like much more of an accomplishment than some stats that most top tier college QBs could probably put together in that conference. To tell you the truth, I don't reallt care, but that 20/20 mark was HUGE !!!


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I dont think Boise St. was weak last year and neither them or Hawaii is weak this season. It is a shame that teams like Boise St. last season and Hawaii this season will never get a chance to play for the BCS title, but it is entirely different to give the Heisman to only top tier programs. This is not the case throughout the heisman history untill very recently and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth most every year now. It is not fair to make judgement calls on the talent level of opponents to make this decision.

This happened when Randy Moss was jobbed and I think it has happened again.

I am in no way saying that Tebow sucks, he just was not the most important college player this season.

It would be nice to have a playoff system and than decide who the Heisman is. Even if they would wait till after the bowl games, the Heisman last year probably would have went to McFadden instead of Troy Smith. Even though I am a bucks fan, he was a marginal QB at best and was made better because of his talented WR's.

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All I'm saying is outside of Boise St. the talent level drops significantly. Fresno St., Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico St., San Jose St., and Utah St. aren't exactly football powerhouses. The SEC (for how much I can't stand them) are a MUCH better conference overall and YES, I do believe it makes a difference when you go to compare two QB's that come from each conference. There's nothing to say (and we will never know) what Brennan can do playing against the talent level within the SEC, although I bet you could guess the outcome of sticking Tebow in against the WAC. Granted, all of this is also predicated on the talent within each team...

Once again, I'm not concerned one way or another, just trying to figure out good reasoning for the outcome. Not to mention the voting wasn't even close...

I also agree, that Troy Smith wasn't as deserving and the Heisman would hold a greater bearing if given after a playoff system within college football...


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