Tebow Will Most Remember Making a Difference

For three years, Tim Tebow has been the starting quarterback for the Florida Gators, and for the final time during the regular season, Tebow talked with the media on a Monday morning. One of college football's greatest players tried to put into words what it's meant to be a Florida Gator for the last four years before he runs out of the tunnel at The Swamp for the final time.

What are you going to take away most from this whole experience?

"It's tough to say. Everything from teammates to coaches, fans, special games, opportunities to do things like make a difference in kids' lives, make-a-wish things and visiting hospitals. It's hard to pick just one thing. I have a lot of great memories."

Can talk about how Ryan Stamper and David Nelson are kind of the survivors staying around here for five years?

"Everyone calls Stamper dad. More so than what they do on the field, those guys are special to us because of their leadership. Their positive attitude, their willingness to go out there every day with a good attitude and keep everyone's spirits up. Those are two guys that never complain, never bicker, never say anything negative, and absolutely have great attitudes. On days when it's hot and two-a-days during training, they just always had great attitudes and are making guys better because of their leadership. They've been around for a while, they know how important it is and they know what it means. The biggest thing they bring to the table is that they're playmakers. They make big plays and they step up. Sometimes they go under the radar, but then Stamp makes a big play on 3rd-and-2 against LSU, Nelson catches the big pass against Oklahoma. They make the big plays because they're accountable and when their number is called they make the play."

When you came here in '06, did you know how good your recruiting class was with you and Percy and Spikes and everyone else?

"You didn't really know, but you thought there was a chance it could be pretty special because a lot of guys came in here highly recruited or highly touted, but we know how much that means. But when you saw those guys come in here and saw how talented they were and special they could be and then that first year and winning the national championship was really special. A lot of the guys had the chance to help and contribute and support in some roles. And then the next year it was the opportunity to take control and we kind of dropped the ball a little bit. It wasn't because of talent, speed or anything like that. It was because of leadership, toughness and character. That's why in that '07 season we didn't have the kind of success we've had. What I'm most proud about with this class is that's what changed. The talent didn't change, but the character, leadership and toughness everyday in practice. That's what changed. That's what I'm most proud about."

Are you going to be able to prepare yourself for the emotions of Saturday's game?

"I'll try to prepare myself. I'm not going to think about it too much, to be honest. I'll just let it happen. It will probably be pretty emotional, exciting, and overwhelming. I'm excited about it. I'm kind of sad that it will be the last opportunity, but also kind of excited that it will be that exciting of a moment."

How important is beating Florida State?

"It's been extremely important. It's been a huge rivalry for us here at Florida. It's been a huge rivalry for them. It's something that's been a very passionate and heated rivalry since before I was born. It's a rivalry that regardless of what's happened the rest of your season, it's going to make you smile a little bit after beating them or them beating us. It's just a game that you want to win for recruiting battles, for pride, just for the state of Florida. It's very special for both teams."

"In the state of Florida and beating guys a lot of them you know and been competing with them in different things for your whole life. I don't think it's more special than Tennessee of Georgia, but it's a different kind of game."

After you committed to Florida did you help recruit some of the other guys in the class?

"I talked to some of them along the way. We had talked at games and talked on the phone some. But for the most part, I didn't know where I was going, so I didn't do any recruiting for anyone. But after I committed I talked to some guys, and a lot of guys already had it in their minds that Florida was a good place and it turned out to be a pretty good class."

You've talked about using football as a platform, but when you look back when you're an old man, will you look back at the football part of it or the other things like preaching, spreading the message, whatever it might be?

"It would be the opportunity I had to influence people through football. And it would probably be the memories I have with being with sick kids and making them smile. I think those would be more special to me than even some of the games and the wins and the championships because at the end of the day it is more special. Being able to use football as a platform to make a kid smile and make a kid's day. Some people get all caught up in beating Florida State, but at the end of the day, it's just a game. But that kid, it's his life. His make-a-wish to talk to me before a game, that's a lot more important than any game."

What kind of a future do you envision yourself having, being a pastor at a church or do you envision yourself going around to different ministries and helping people that way?

"I don't really envision myself being a pastor at a church. That's never been a goal. I just want to do the stuff I do now. I just want to try and help, being involved with hospitals and charities and maybe have a few of my own. Being involved in other people's lives and having an impact. Hopefully, I'll play football for a little bit, and then help people have a better life. I'm just going to take one step at a time."

Do you remember the first game you attended in this stadium?

"I honestly can't remember. I was too young."

What are your fondest memories attending a game here?

"Just having an opportunity to watch Danny Wuerffel who was a great role-model for me. Also as a little kid being able to see the Gators and how big they were and how fast they were. I still have a football and a hat that I got from a fan day and all those guys signed it. I remember standing next to, I think, Donnie Young and Jeff Mitchell, the picture is still in my room and how small I was compared to those guys. Being a Gator fan, and to be part of it and cheer them on and hear how loud the Swamp is and singing the fight songs and just being a part of it all."

Urban wrote in his book that he could envision you being the coach of the Gators. Is that a goal you could ever see yourself pursuing? And there are reports and rumors of Urban and Notre Dame. Could you ever see him leaving here?

"I think when he's ready to retire and be done, which I don't think is now and won't be for a little while, I don't think he'll be at Notre Dame. I think he's enjoying his time here and he's enjoying being the head coach at the University of Florida. Enjoying his senior class and winning 21 in a row. I don't think that's on his mind. I think he'll be here for a while because he loves it here. He loves working for Mr. Foley. He loves the University of Florida. He loves his players. I don't think he wants to go to a place where he has to start fresh and start new. I think he enjoys being here. It's the best place in football. I don't know why he would he leave."

"He always gives me hard time and says one day I'll be coaching here. I don't know. It's something that intrigues me. It's an opportunity where you can invest in young men and give them your knowledge as a football coach. But also be able to ingrain being a man and what that's like and life experiences and football. I like being able to correlate the two. It's not something that I'm going to throw out because I think I'd have a lot of fun doing it and I'd think I'd enjoy it. So I'll never close that door."

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