RECRUITING: And the winner is... FLORIDA!

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- Nease All-American Quarterback Tim Tebow thrilled Florida coaches and scores of Gators fans alike when he announced before a nationally televised ESPN audience and a crowded house at Nease High School that he will call the University of Florida home during his collegiate career.

(Tim Tebow profile)

"I will play for the University of Florida," announced Tebow. "It's a very exciting time at the University of Florida."

Video of Tebow's announced commitment

The Mr. Football Award winner has been at the center of an intense recruiting battle between Florida, Alabama, Southern Cal, LSU, and Michigan. Alabama coach Mike Shula significantly closed the gap when Tebow visited Tuscaloosa during the season.

"It was a hard decision," he said. "I really got to meet a lot of great people and coaches and it was hard to pick one school, but Florida was just the most comfortable fit for me"

Tebow etched his name alongside Emmitt Smith, Wilbur Marshall, John L. Williams, and Willie McClendon as high profile high school players who were the focus of intense recruiting battles. All of whom eventually signed with the Gators. Interestingly, Tebow's recruitment was also aligned with that of perhaps his fondest football hero, Danny Wuerffel, who also came down to a Florida/Alabama decision.

The southpaw led the Panthers (13-2) to their first ever state title last Saturday in Dolphins Stadium. The Panthers dropped a season opening 50-29 contest to USA Today 4th ranked Hoover (Alabama) on the road and a 20-14 heartbreaker to arch-rival St. Augustine. Both Hoover and St. Augustine won state titles in their respective classifications.

In his senior year, Tebow completed 223 of 355 passes (62.8) for 3,442 yards. He threw 34 touchdown passes. He ran for 1.045 yards and 21 touchdowns.

He rewrote the Florida High School career record books for total offense (12,960), career passing yards (9,940), touchdowns (159), and completions (631). He also shattered single season records in total offense (5,552), passing yards (4,286), touchdown passes (46), and total touchdowns (70).

Tebow is an incredibly strong athlete with the ability to break tackles and make things happen if the receiver can't break free from the coverage. He also has good speed for a powerful runner. There is no question that the spread offense will allow Florida to put more pressure on the defense. Obviously, he has a big league arm as well.

"I have a special relationship with the coaching staff there and really loved both schools, but I'm happy to be a Gator," affirmed Tebow.

With his commitment to the Florida Gators, Tebow headlines the Class of 2006 which is already evolving into an outstanding unit and will be bolstered even further with Tebow serving as the Pied Piper to lure more highly touted recruits in. Gator Country will have more Tebow coverage later today.

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