Superman. It's what they call him. I can see why. Two BCS Championships. A Heisman trophy. Plenty of records.
But what makes him a legend in Florida is not the stats. It's the excitement he brings to the fans. It's the fiery passion that grips his spectators and overflows to his teammates. It's the role model he is sculpting and the formulaic molds he's shattering. Yeah, maybe the BCS titles help, too.
What Tim Tebow offers is an uncanny mixture of God-given talent and relentless work ethic, competitiveness, and grit.
He's a fullback who plays quarterback, a tough goal-line runner who throws winning touchdown after winning touchdown.
The term "leader" fits Tebow to a tee. He leads by example, both on the field and off. His courage shows when he stands up for what he believes in and when he runs like a madman, crashing into one 300-pound defender at a time.
But, for a football quarterback, one size doesn't fit all. That's why so many critics don't expect him to succeed at the next level. True, he is dominator at the college level. Perhaps the best. Ever. But will that translate into success on NFL turf? Most critics say maybe; some say no. Few say yes.
And it's very understandable as to why. He's not exactly a prototype passer.
And he evokes a fountain of questions.
Will he be able to make the transition from Florida's spread option offense to a pro-style offense? Can he survive a 16-game season taking the hits he receives so regularly at Florida? Will he stick to running, or will he maintain his duel-threat, quarterback/running back status on a pro team? Will he suffer the same fate as Alex Smith, coached by the same coach that now brings us Tebow?
There are many more questions that could be asked. So many that NFL scouts have likely grown wary of his risk factor; as a result, he may fall into the second round of the 2009 NFL draft, the third or fourth quarterback picked.
The man that many claim to be the greatest college football player to grace an NCAA team has a chance of sliding into the second round. You could win money with that joke.
And while I completely understand the skepticism regarding Tebow's chances in the NFL, I beg to differ. I wholeheartedly believe that Tebow will be a great NFL player, one remembered for generations to come.
Though they may deceive, numbers do not lie. While Alex Smith's great numbers were derived from his fairly good accuracy and arm strength, they also largely came from a system that swelled his numbers far beyond his skill and potential. However, Tebow has the physical tools and decision-making ability that are key in the next level.
Tebow's statistics show a man with a nose, and arm, for the end zone. Unwilling to let a sliver of opportunity slip by, he makes the most of every chance he gets and keeps plays alive. 51 touchdowns in 2007 and 42 this past year illustrate his ability to lead his team toward and into the end zone.
A clutch quarterback, he makes the right choices at the right times, evidenced by his four- and six-interception counts the past two seasons, respectively. To put this in perspective, Sam Bradford, widely accepted as the No. 1 quarterback heading into the 2010 draft, had 16 interceptions in the last two years.
Keep in mind that Tebow faces the toughest defensive conference in the entire NCAA. This denotes tougher coverage and less time in the pocket. Yet, Tebow still produced a 172.37 passing efficiency rating, leading the Southeastern Conference and ranking fourth overall in the nation.
Tebow's nearly too-good-to-be-true numbers are too blatant to have been simply inflated by the system, and his low interception and high touchdown ratio displays his practically error-free play and superior decision-making in addition to his ability to rally his team and drive down the field time and time again, punching in touchdowns upon touchdowns.
Tebow's finest attributes, however, are veiled by the glamour of his records, awards, and championships. Tebow has the rare gift of absolute dedication and the singular ability to lead in a way scarcely seen in a quarterback. He can sway the morale of an entire team. He can hold a group of players together like glue. Selflessness is his slogan, and competitiveness is his motto.
In the NFL, Tim Tebow will provide the wisdom of a veteran in the energetic and passionate body of a rookie. Whether he adjusts to his team or his team adjusts to him, his football aptitude and comprehension will allow him to make the changes necessary.
Tebow has extraordinary leadership qualities, notably needed in the NFL, and the exceptional ability to read defenses, sustain drives, and make intelligent, rational choices. His fortitude, toughness, both mentally and physically, strength, and will make him a remarkable runner.
Tim Tebow is, at his core, a football player in every implication of that word. Blessed with innate physical prowess and a passion, competence, and dedication to the game, Tebow will thrive at the next level. And in years to come, he will be remembered for the elation he brought every moment he stepped on the turf and for being an exemplar of a great player, and, more importantly, a great person.