Tim Tebow is The Greatest Florida Gator Ever

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IJanuary 16, 2009

The debate is over.

What once was speculation is now fact.

Tim Tebow is the greatest Florida Gator ever.

With all due respect to Florida's other Heisman Trophy winners Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier, Tebow is in another league.

The Gator quarterback can even make a claim as one of the greatest players in college football history after winning his second national championship at Florida Jan. 8.

So, what makes Tebow the greatest football player to ever wear the Gator orange and blue in The Swamp?

Let's take a look at his resumé.

From the moment Tebow arrived in Gainesville, he was a rock star among the Gator Nation.

Heralded as one of the top recruits in the country, expectations for Tebow were through the roof before he even took a snap in practice.

However, Tebow took on the challenge like he does rival linebackers—head on.

As a freshman, "Superman" played a vital role on the national championship team, spelling Chris Leak on short-yardage downs and often providing a spark for the Gators.

Tebow finished the season with 469 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns and five passing touchdowns, laying the foundation for his legend.

As the 2007 approached, No. 15 was set to take reigns of Urban Meyer's spread offense after Leak's graduation.

While every team in the nation was aware of Tebow's ability to plow over defenders on the run, there were still unanswered questions about his passing ability.

Would he be able to lead the Gators’ aerial attack against the tough defenses of the SEC?

Tebow answered his critics with a resounding yes, passing for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns.

He even finished the season with a passer rating of 172.47, good enough for the second best mark in the nation.

However, while he was busy piling up stats through the air, Tebow did not give up his running ways.

The Gators’ dual-threat quarterback continued to build his reputation as one of the most dangerous ground threats in the game, racking up eye-popping numbers.

Tebow rushed for 895 yards on 210 attempts for an average of 4.26 yards per carry, a remarkable feat considering that he suffered 13 sacks during the season.

However, Tebow’s most impressive statistic may have been his 23 rushing touchdowns, an SEC record for the most in a single season—at any position.

The Florida signal-caller’s 32 touchdown passes and 23 rushing touchdowns made him the first player to ever throw and run for 20 or more touchdowns in a single season.

Tebow’s outstanding season was good enough to make him the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman Trophy and added yet another chapter to his legendary football career as a Gator.

While Tebow had arguably the best individual season in college football history, his best days as a Gator were still yet to come in 2008.

The 2008 version of the Gators looked to be a legitimate BCS National Championship contender with their high-powered offense and what looked to be an improved defense.

The defense showed their mettle early, pairing with the special teams to provide the majority of the points as the Gators rattled off three blowout victories to start the season.

However, it all came to an end against Ole Miss in “the Swamp” as the Gators fell victim to Houston Nutt and the Rebels 31-30.

The defining moment of the game came when Tebow was stopped on a fourth down run to seal the victory for the University of Mississippi.

This would also prove to be the defining moment of not only the Gators’ season, but perhaps Tebow’s entire career as a Florida Gator.

Following the game, Tebow addressed the media, making a statement that will forever be enshrined as a classic moment in Gator football history.

“You will never see another player in the entire country play as hard as I will play for the rest of this season," Tebow said. "You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody for the rest of this season. God bless."

Tebow kept true on his promise, tossing 23 touchdown passes, rushing for 10 more, and amassing 2,487 yards of total offense for the remainder of the season.

Yet, there was still something that Tebow had never accomplished before the 2008 season—and the opportunity arose against No. 1 Alabama with the SEC Championship on the line.

Prior to the matchup with ‘Bama, Tebow had never led the Gators to a come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter, failing to do so five times before.

However, Tebow picked the perfect time to step up, leading Florida 65 yards down the field on a clock-killing drive and sealing a 31-20 victory for the Gators with a touchdown pass to Riley Cooper.

Oh yeah, and he did this without the services of his favorite target—Percy Harvin.

Tebow’s clutch performance in 2008 helped earn him an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but more importantly, a spot for Florida in the BCS National Championship Game.

While Tebow was denied a second consecutive Heisman Trophy in favor of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, he kept his eyes on the prize he desired most of all.

“I’ll be motivated enough [for the BCS Championship Game],” Tebow said.

While Tebow may have had enough motivation for the matchup with Oklahoma, Sooners cornerback Dominique Franks decided to make sure that that was the case.

“If you look at the three best quarterbacks in the country, they all come from the Big 12,” said Franks, referring to Bradford, Texas’s Colt McCoy, and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell.

Franks continued, saying that Tebow would “probably be about the fourth-best quarterback in our conference.”

It’s probably safe to say that Franks has never heard about Geno Hayes of Florida State or Ricky Jean-Francois of LSU.

Don’t mess with Tebow.

The “fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12” declined comment on Franks’ words, actually appearing to lack interest in Franks’ comments.

“I have enough to be motivated about,” Tebow said. “Holding the crystal ball up is No. 1.”

Regardless of what he says, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner was ready for the BCS Championship Game, even without a Heisman snub or Franks’ opinions.

However, he did not get out to a good start in the first half, throwing two interceptions that could have easily turned into points.

Fortunately, the Gators’ stellar defense was there to pick up the slack, stopping arguably the best offense in college football history in the red zone—twice.

His bad first half was all that it took to get Tebow back on the right track as he led the Gator offense  on two crucial scoring drives in the fourth quarter to put Oklahoma away.

No.  15 finished off the night with 231 yards passing, 109 rushing yards, and two touchdowns, earning Offensive MVP honors.

After winning a second national championship, paired with his Heisman Trophy, Tebow is simply the greatest player to ever don the Orange and Blue.

Tebow has a tenacity and a competitive fire that few Gators, past or present, can rival.

Tebow has it all.

Whether it is his powerful throwing arm, his bruising running style, or his ability to come through in the clutch, especially with a championship at stake, Tebow is the full package.

In addition, few can send "the Swamp" into a frenzy just by pumping his fists into the air.

Tebow epitomizes the passion and the spirit of college football and it shows through the toughness and emotion he plays with every time he steps out on the field.

Luckily for the Gator Nation, Tebow is not finished yet.

During Florida’s championship celebration at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Tebow announced his intent to return to Gainesville for his senior season.

"It's even more motivation maybe for one more year," Tebow said, following the Heisman Trophy ceremony. "I still got one more chance, right?"

Yes, you do Tim.

As if he needs one.


    LSU Lands No. 1 CB of 2019 Derek Stingley

    College Football logo
    College Football

    LSU Lands No. 1 CB of 2019 Derek Stingley

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Athlon Ranks Every FBS Team for 2018 👀

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Athlon Ranks Every FBS Team for 2018 👀

    via AthlonSports.com

    Recruits, Be Warned. Frost Is Watching Your Social Media

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Recruits, Be Warned. Frost Is Watching Your Social Media

    Sam McKewon
    via Omaha.com

    Former Kentucky Punter Foster Announces He Is Gay

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Former Kentucky Punter Foster Announces He Is Gay

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report