Tebow under center?

Tim Tebow has won two national championship rings and a Heisman Trophy running a Spread Offense at Florida. Still, some folks question his ability to play quarterback in the pros, where he'll have to line up under center instead of in the shotgun formation.

The debate has raged for months: Should head coach Urban Meyer utilize Tebow more under center to enhance his stock with NFL teams?

Meyer conceded at the recent SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., that "There's a lot made of that," but went on to note that "The concern is not from the professional coaches that I have a lot of conversation with. That never comes up."

Although Tebow has operated almost exclusively in shotgun formation at Florida, Meyer has no doubt that his star quarterback could handle any schematic wrinkles the pros might throw at him.

"If you want Tim Tebow under center, teach him to get under center," Meyer said. "He'll probably do it better than anybody else."

Meyer's assurance won't be enough to assure Tebow an early selection in next April's NFL Draft, however, Pro scouts would prefer to SEE how Tebow performs in an NFL-style attack before they invest millions and millions of dollars in him. So, the question remains: Should Meyer occasionally venture outside his base offense to try and boost his star player's pro stock?

"Are we going to place him under center? A lot of it depends on the quality of our tailback," Meyer said. "To play an under-center offense, you better have a monster back there at tailback that can take the pounding involved in that style of offense."

Florida does not have a "monster" at tailback. Instead, the Gators have a couple of mighty-mites. Chris Rainey (5-9, 185) ran for 652 yards last fall and Jeff Demps (5-8, 176) chipped in 605. Each averaged 7.8 yards per carry but neither appears big enough to take much pounding. Only third-teamer Emmanuel Moody (6-0, 210) has the size to play a traditional I-formation tailback position.

Still, Meyer said that the Gators should have a good fullback in T.J. Pridemore and "three quality tailbacks. If they develop, it helps us win a game, we'll do that."

If the Gators play some I-formation, though, Meyer says it will be to enhance their offense, not to enhance Tebow's draft stock.

"We are certainly not trying to (do this) because someone said Tim needs to be under center to enhance his draft status," the head man said. "I assure you, him playing under center has nothing to do with his draft status with the programs we talked to. If it did, we would help him because he earned that. It's not that different."

The bottom line, Meyer concluded, is this: "He will be under center if it helps us win a game."

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