"Not only do you have a great throwing quarterback, but you've got a guy that, even when everything's covered, takes off and runs," Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin said this week. "He's like trying to tackle (250-pound former NFL fullback Mike) Alstott."
Senior linebacker Rico McCoy conceded the point, noting:
"You've got everybody telling you 'Knock him out. Knock Tebow out this weekend.' I'm like, 'Yeah, we're going to try and knock him out but it's like hitting a fullback.' He's 245 or 250 pounds, and he's a load. I'm not going to lie to you. He's a big boy. He's tough."
Tebow's bruising running style is well documented. Even playing quarterback, he led all Florida rushers in both 2007 (895 yards) and 2008 (673 yards). In addition to the build of a fullback, he has the heart of a lion. He does not shy away from contact.
"He's just a tremendous competitor ... the way he plays the whole game," Vol safety Eric Berry said. "You never see him take a play off. You always see him finishing his runs. The way he gets his team motivated - how they're all behind him - it's amazing to see that type of leadership."
Tebow isn't the first brute to play quarterback in the SEC. Alabama had 260-pound Freddie Kitchens in the 1980s. Kentucky had 280-pound Jared Lorenzen in the '90s. LSU had 260-pound JaMarcus Russell earlier this decade. Those guys weren't nearly as adept at running, however, and they weren't nearly as inclined to do so.
Tebow already helped Florida win two national titles and has the top-ranked Gators on track for a third one in 2009. Simply put, he's the best there is, and that has Tennessee's players excited about facing him Saturday afternoon at The Swamp.
"It's going to be fun," Vol defensive end Chris Walker said. "He's a really good player, a Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time national champion, a great competitor."
What separates Tebow from the rest, however, is the fact his intangibles are just as impressive as his physical attributes.
"It's his knowledge of the game, his intensity that he plays with," Walker said. "And he has a lot of weapons around him he can go to."