Tebow Begins Senior Season

He's got a Heisman, two BCS National Championships, virtually unanimous adulation and he's still in college. Tim Tebow begins his final season as a Gator with Wednesday's first day of spring practices. Tebow is on target to continue his assault on the record books, including a chance to become the first player in major college history to run and pass for 50-plus touchdowns.

He needs seven rushing TDs to make that happen. He's also likely to set a record for combined touchdowns at UF and in the SEC, but his focus is on being part of the first perfect season (including bowls) in school history.

Coming off the practice field, Tim Tebow was met by a number of media guys including yours truly. The first thing he was asked for was his reaction to the Florida Gators permanently displaying his post-Ole Miss speech at The Swamp.

TT: "I guess it's cool to have something you said up there. It means a lot to some people so I think that's cool."

How did the Gator quarterback find out it was going to happen?

TT: "Coach Meyer told me a while ago. It's nice because it's the university honoring our team and what we accomplished and what that represents and the hard work we put in, not just how I said it, but what happened afterward."

Tebow said he hasn't seen it yet, but figures he will soon enough. Tebow also talked a good bit about his spring break missionary trip to the Philippines and what it meant to him to go back there before the conversation turned to football. I asked him about life without his top two targets of a year ago, Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy.

TT: "Well the year before they weren't our top targets either. Every year someone steps up and fills in those roles and I think we have guys who are going to do it this year and do it great. I'm excited. Everyone came out here today and worked hard. The receivers did a great job of coming out here and stepping into those roles and taking them as their own. I'm really proud of them and they're doing a great job."

LV: Is Deonte (Thompson) at the top of that list?

TT: "I don't know who's at the top and who's at the bottom but he's a guy we're going to count on to make plays consistently week in and week out and I think he's up to that challenge."

MG: Is it unreasonable to think anyone can replace Percy?

TT: "I don't know. I think we'll have a lot of guys. Obviously they won't be exactly like Percy, but they're going to be good. Percy is a very unique player. He's a great player, but we'll have guys step up who will do good things for us. Maybe not in the same way as Percy, though."

MG: How do you guys avoid the complacency that may have set in two years ago after that championship?

TT: "The first way you handle that is by having great leadership. Having leadership (by) coming out here getting better every day, working and staying motivated. Being complacent is taking things for granted and not pushing yourself to the best of your ability."

Tebow was the first guy on the practice field Wednesday and he was asked if that was a message he was trying to convey.

TT: "I wasn't thinking about it like that, but it is in ways like that of being the first one year, being the last one to leave. I think that's the sign of a great leader."

LV: Tim, it's just you and Johnny Brantley at quarterback now. How much time do you spend with him and how important is it that he make progress and be ready if needed?

TT: "I spend a lot of time with John on and off the field. He's a great guy and he's going to be a great quarterback here. He's working hard. He's doing a great job and he's improving every day."

LV: What kind of wrinkles has your new coach, Scott Loeffler added to your game and to this offense?

TT: "I think he'll add a part. I think every coach that comes in tries to add a little bit of him and so you'll see that in our offense. He's already brought some new philosophies about different things and some new footwork."

MG: What specifically has he worked with you on?

TT: "More so as far as footwork and some of the drops and some of the hitches off the drops. (We're trying) some of the things that he's done in the past that really helped (his) quarterbacks that we can implement here that I think can really help me so we're working on that."

And so the first of 15 days of spring practice is over with, but it seems Florida's quarterback is in mid-season form when it comes to setting the tone for his teammates.


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