Florida Gators Must Replace the Tim Tebow Position

Jay HendryCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2010

In recent years, the archetypal players have been those that didn't so much redefine an existing position as much as they created a new one. 

In 2004, Reggie Bush invented the Reggie Bush position (RBP).  Sure, all–purpose backs existed before he did, but his level of success all but invented the recruitment of "Athletes," hybrid players without an actual position.

The Bush Position is used to label those running backs who can line up at slot and run routes as a wide receiver.

In 2006, the Bush Position's competitor was invented.  The Gators' No. 1 recruit, Percy Harvin, played as the WR/RB, which was later named the "Percy Position" (PP). 

Percy Positions are wide receivers who can run out of the backfield, a legitimate difference especially when you consider the two players' professional careers.

The Gators and other spread teams have been loading up on PPs and RBPs thanks to the versatility of those athletes.  The PP isn't the only prototype the 2006 Gators can be credited for though. 

With all of the speed guys on offense, Urban Meyer had to come up with a short yardage solution.  PPs and RBPs are nice on first and second down, but when the defense knows you're coming right at them, a team needs a player with a little bit more oomph.

For most teams, that guy is a big, burly running back/full back/H-back.  For the Gators, a far more original position was created: the third-down quarterback, or the Tebow Back (TQB). 

The TQB proved crucial to the Gators' success under Urban Meyer.

On a September night in 2006, the TQB was born.  The Gators needed a fourth-down conversion, and Urban put the ball in the hands of his freshman QB.  Tebow converted, and the Gators went on to score the winning touchdown.

Could Deshawn Wynn have converted the 4th-and-1?  Yes, he could have.  However, Wynn was an inconsistent back who was frequently tackled for zero yards.  I often joke that Wynn was like Barry Sanders without the occasional 60–80 yard breakaway. 

Basically, he was all no–gainers, all the time.  That wasn't exactly the case, but he wasn't the kind of guy on whom you rest the hopes of your entire season.

Ultimately, Tebow falls forward beyond the line of scrimmage.  That's why he got the nod.

After that play, you already know the rest: two national championships, three SEC Championship appearances, and three BCS Bowl wins. 

The TQB wasn't responsible for all of that success.  Tebow did a pretty good job as a regular QB too, but goal line situations and short-yardage conversions were his greatest strength.

However, with the departure of Tebow, that consistency has turned into UF's biggest offseason question.

John Brantley is a fine player.  Chris Leak was too.  Either one does a fine job at QB, but can either win a championship without Tebow, or more specifically, the TQB?

Brantley can replace Tebow at QB.  He throws a faster, tighter ball, and if his mop up work is any indicator, he doesn't show favoritism toward trusted receivers (see Tebow to Cooper/Tebow to Hernandez vs. Tebow to anyone else). 

In some places, he'll be a better QB.  However, Brantley doesn't play the TQB.  More specifically, he can't.  He's not big enough, and he's not tough enough.  With UF's lack of a real, proven running back, the thought of 3rd-and-short has become 3rd-and-"Oh sh**."

Demps can't do it.  Rainey can't do it.  Both are too small, and both could break if hit by any defensive player who hangs around the middle of the field. 

Moody might be the guy to run the ball in short-yardage situations, but he gets hurt and Urban Meyer hates him.  It's not exactly a confidence-inspiring situation. 

The Gators may have to turn to the TQB again.  Unfortunately, there isn't exactly a Tim Tebow on the roster. 

Early enrollee Trey Burton is the closest thing to Tebow on the roster.  He's big-ish (6'2", 200-plus lbs.), strong-ish (bench press listed at 280), and a runner. 

The difference?  Tebow was big (6'3", 215-plus lbs) and strong. (His party trick? He bench presses a dump truck full of lead.)  From December 2005 to August 2006, Tebow bulked up to over 235 lbs., or roughly as big as a starting SEC middle linebacker. 

Can Burton bulk up that much?  I don't think so.  He might be able to get up around 220 lbs. though.  At 200, Burton is the best running QB option.  At 220, he's a TQB. 

With a TQB the 2010 team starts looking like a less experienced, more explosive version of the 2006 team.  I'm not saying the Gators will be in the championship, but close games will be more winnable with a short-yardage specialist.

Plus, chicks dig the jump pass.


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