The Impact of Tim Tebow on Gator Recruiting

Word is finally in. In one of the most anticipated decisions in recent memory, quarterback Tim Tebow has finally let the college football world know his destination – the University of Florida. You have to go back a few seasons to another quarterback prospect that held the Gator Nation's breath with his college choice – current Florida starting quarterback Chris Leak. Tebow, like Leak, announced his choice moments ago on a national stage – ESPN News.

It was an interesting recruiting battle to watch unfold because you have some great programs involved in the Tim Tebow sweepstakes – Florida, Alabama, LSU, Michigan and Southern Cal. For all intensive purposes it came down to the Gators and Tide. Early on it was thought that Tebow was a "lock" to Florida. But for those that follow recruiting closely you know there is no such thing as a lock in recruiting. There are two many great programs filled with great recruiters and coaches. Teams can't take anyone they are recruiting for granted. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula and his staff did a masterful job recruiting Tebow. The quarterback has a great admiration for Shula and what he has done in the profession – at both the professional and collegiate level. And Alabama is after all, Alabama, one of the most storied teams in college football with a rich tradition of college football. But in the end, the Tebow's ties to UF were too much. It is also an opportunity for Tebow to fulfill his dream and play for the Gators. Think of it like this -- it's the equivalent of Brodie Croyle not going to the Crimson Tide. But like Croyle before him, Tebow went to the team he grew up dreaming to play for.

Tebow has the upside to have an outstanding career at the next level in Gainesville. He's big (6-3, 225), strong, tough, poised and very athletic. Tim has an above average arm and can throw all the passes you need in a college quarterback. He can also run (4.6 forty). I think what I like about him the most is his mentality. He plays the game the way it was meant to be played. Tim doesn't care about stats. He cares about winning and he will do whatever it takes to get the "W" and in the grand scheme of things, that's the only stat that matters. As far as his sophistication and savvy at the QB position, he should be fine and will be like any other quarterback prospect in his shoes. He will have an adjustment period to the speed of the game, learning a system and reading defenses just like everyone else before him.

What does this mean for Urban Meyer and his Florida Gators? Well, they just landed their top QB prospect on their board who happens to be a potential franchise type of quarterback. Tebow has all the physical tools to run Coach Meyer's spread offense. The beauty of this if you are Florida is that he will hopefully have a senior signal caller in Leak, to take him under his wings, and show him the ropes of what it takes to be an SEC quarterback. It's a demanding system and a demanding league and like Chris Leak, all Tim Tebow wants to do is win.

Of course he will come in and want to compete for the starting job. But for Tebow he will be best suited to become a sponge and soak up what others before him have learned and apply it to his game for the future of Florida football. After all, he will have the keys to the car sooner rather than later, at least that has got to be the plan for Meyer and his staff. They are loading up with skilled players blessed with athleticism and speed. Florida is recruiting players that fit Meyer's offense, playmakers and game breakers and they got their point guard in Tim Tebow. All he has to do is distribute the ball.

Look at what UF has done on the recruiting trail this season: They are bringing in the nation's best wide receiving corps. Jamar Hornsby (Jacksonville, Fla.), Jarred Fayson (Tampa, Fla.), Bryan Thomas (Zephyrhills, Fla.), Justin Williams (Folkston, Ga.), and Damien Williams (Springdale, Ark.) have already committed to the Gators. And they are not done. Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.) is the nation's top wide receiver prospect and the most explosive recruit at this position. Right now he is torn between USC and Florida. But watch out for the Seminoles with him. And of course a decision should be made before Christmas by Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) who appears to be headed to Gainesville or Stillwater. Cooper, Hornsby, Thomas, and potentially Williams all could play defensive back as well. Regardless, Meyer and his staff have a splendid array of talent to surround Tebow with.

In addition to the receiver needs getting filled Florida, found themselves a couple of talented tight ends in Trent Pupello (Tampa, Fla.) and Ben Cleveland (Springdale, Ark.). It was interesting this year to see Meyer tweak his offense in mid-season and incorporate the tight end and fullback into his offense scheme.

Of course, you have to have the big guys up front. Carl Johnson (Durham, N.C.), Maurice Hurt (Milledgeville, Ga.), Jim Barrie (Tampa, Fla.), and Lawrence Marsh (Augusta, Ga.) have all committed to Florida. They are awaiting word on offensive tackles Sam Young (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Marcus Gilbert (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and others. This is the area that the Gators need to close with a bang, because in this offense especially, you better be dominant up at the line of scrimmage and you obviously need depth.

Also, Florida has two running back prospects headed their way in Chevon Walker (Ft. Myers, Fla.) and Brandon James (St. Augustine, Fla.). There are big names still on the recruiting board like C.J. Spiller (Lake Butler), Mon Williams (Mesquite, Texas), Keiland Williams (Chatham, Va.) and others.

This is where Tebow could influence a prospect or two. We certainly saw Leak have an extraordinary impact on Ron Zook and his recruiting efforts after he committed to Florida. Tebow may have the same type of impact but to a lesser extent because UF already has so many commitments. How will Tebow's decision help with prospects like Spiller, Harvin and the others? It should only help.

This season's recruiting efforts by Florida was like piecing together a puzzle and Tim Tebow was a big piece. The Tebow recruiting saga may be over but for Tebow and his Florida Gator future, it's just the beginning of a promising career.


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