At first glance, he's that squeaky-clean golden boy you just want to dunk down a water tank.
Because Tim Tebow has it all. A Heisman, two national titles, a 3.7 GPA, the girl, the charm. There isn't a zit on this guy. Hugh Heffner might as well be the one with his arm around his girlfriend in a picture that's been googled into oblivion.
Tebow is college football's protagonist --- animated and unstoppable. When he's not storming around the Georgia Dome in a power-skip after knocking off then-No. 1 Alabama, he's turning to the LSU student section and pretending to use a cell phone after a touchdown (mocking the infinite crude prank calls he received leading up to the game).
A lot of quarterbacks play with passion. But not like this. How many quarterbacks have received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the closing minutes of a championship win? Tebow's Gator Chomp in the face of Nic Harris is merely a thumbnail into the most vivacious collegiate player you'll see.
Tim Tebow is a load to bring down.
Don't be envious or skeptical. Buy into Tim Tebow. His performance Thursday night against Oklahoma should put him on the fast track to the NFL. If he decides to forgo his senior year, Tebow's blend of skills will blaze a new trail in the pros. It's something the Bills should certainly consider if the Florida quarterback slips to them at some point in the draft. Tebow could be the shot of adrenaline Buffalo's stagnant franchise needs.
Thursday night in the BCS Championship, Tebow did what he always does. Take over. For weeks analysts debated who was better: Tebow or Oklahoma's Heisman-winner Sam Bradford. The difference was always their stark contrast in personality. Bradford was the quiet choir boy and Tebow was the transparent Big Man on Campus. He always wears his emotions loudly.
Of the 74 offensive plays Florida ran against the Sooners, 52 were Tebow-related. He bounced back from two early picks to throw for 231 yards on 18-of-30 passing with two touchdown strikes. As the maiestro of Urban Meyer's unstoppable, multi-option spread offense, Tebow bulled through the teeth of Oklahoma's ‘D' for 109 yards on 22 carries. Again and again, he lowered his shoulder into the chin of defenders, firing up with a flurry of fist pumps and battle cries.
But when it comes to his pro potential, everybody is tip-toeing around land mines. Nobody is ready to say where Tebow should be drafted --- even himself. Tebow requested a draft projection from the NFL's advisory committee. Some say the burly 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior will crash and burn like previous collegiate run/pass phenoms.
After all, didn't we see this three years ago? Texas' Vince Young high-stepped around USC players as if they were construction cones en route to 200 rushing yards, 267 passing yards and three touchdowns in the best college football game ever. Scouts drooled. We all took the bait. And Young went on to stain the allure of one-man wrecking crews with a bizarre demise in the pros --- from rookie of the year to suicide watch.
Tebow isn't Young. For months, scouts have been mixing potions together and cramming calculations trying to figure out if Tim Tebow's unstoppable style translates to the NFL. Unlike Young at Texas, Tebow runs designed running plays with regularity. It's not scrambling out of the pocket, it's slamming between the tackles. It's not darting into a vacated area, it's running in traffic.
Sure, Tebow is a step slow, but as teammate Percy Harvin said, "He's 240 pounds. So if he hits you, you're going to know it was him."Added Florida's rival coach, Georgia's Mark Richt, "I've seen quarterbacks who can run. But not with that power or toughness."
Young? At times he seems like a quarterback on stilts with a skirt. His slippery, whitetail-stride in college is horizontal and soft in the pros.
Subscribe to this hype. Tim Tebow could be the NFL's equivalent to LeBron James. Someone much bigger and much stronger than anyone else at his position. After the title game Tebow said he used the month layoff before the championship to get into shape. You get the sense Tebow knew he'd be calling his own number on the option more than usual. He'd want the ball when it mattered most. He knew Oklahoma "was going to play to the whistle."
So Tebow approached this game like a heavyweight fight. There's a good chance he was climbing mountains in Russia to the backdrop of "Heart's on Fire." Just as Rocky prepared for a smothering of Ivan Drago haymakers, Tebow prepared for his 22 head-on-collision rushing attempts.
Tebow posted an unworldly passer rating of 172.4 this season.
Teams will be worried if a starting quarterback can withstand such contact over a brutal 16-game season. Count on it. In terms of speed and aggression, the modern-day SEC is as close to the NFL as any conference has been in a long, long time. In his '07 Heisman season, Tebow threw for 3,286 yards, ran for 895 yards and had an astronomical 55 total touchdowns in a conference that boasted eight defensive players in the first three rounds of the ensuing NFL Draft (and three in the top ten picks overall).
Tebow churned out 2,037 rushing yards in his three seasons. No 70-yarders skewing reality here, either. Tebow's longest run in his collegiate career is only 29 yards. He wears you out with his power-forward frame… and he can also dissect a defense with pinpoint accuracy (unlike past dual-threat sensations Young and Michael Vick). Tebow completed 64 percent of his passes year to go with his 172.4 passer rating (4th in nation).
Leading 17-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Tebow constructed a drive that proved why an offense should re-define itself for Tebow --- not the other way around.
After a clutch interception gave Florida the ball with 9:59, Tebow stepped on Oklahoma's jugular. On 3rd and 12, he rolled left, waited a split second and threw across his body to center of field for a thread-the-needle first down to Riley Cooper in the middle of two Sooners. Two plays later, he leaned forward on a nifty fake-draw action and perfectly placed a pass to David Nelson between the linebacker and the safety for 29 yards. His bruising style opens up such trickery. After completing another clutch 3rd down, Tebow's jump-pass touchdown to Nelson sealed the title.
Florida had melted 6:52 off the clock, built a two-score lead and Tebow had flashed everything that makes him unstoppable. Touch passing, bruising running and back-breaking misdirection.
No quarterback in this era has Tebow's ability to click into four-wheel drive, channel his inner Earl Campbell and bowl over opponents --- all while still possessing an NFL arm. It's code of law in all of football for coaches to nurture a quarterback inside of a pocket like China glass in a cabinet. The NFL passes new rules constantly to keep the jerseys of quarterbacks clean. Coaches drill their precious signal-callers to slide at the sniff of contact.
And Tim Tebow says to Bring. It. On.
After his title-clinching kneel-down, you could sense Tebow felt bad about that Gator Chomp a few moments earlier. Confetti began to fall and he immediately hugged a handful of Oklahoma players. This may have been Tim Tebow's final college game, but this isn't the last you'll see of him. He won't fade into the clump of failed Heisman phenoms.
Some team at some point will muster the intestinal fortitude to take a chance on Tebow. He is far from someone you'd want to send down the water tank. Tim Tebow is a strong man of sincere faith in God. As a miracle baby, he has a unique perspective on life. And on the field, he's legitimately "Superman" --- as teammates call him.
If Tebow declares for the draft, the Bills may be wise to take the gamble.
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of the Buffalo Football Report and also writes for The Packer Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.