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An Appreciation: QB Tim Tebow

Ninth and final post in a series on seniors leaving the SEC.

What do you say about Tim Tebow? What can you possibly say that hasn't already been said?

He's been sainted and slammed. Praised and parodied. Named one of the best players in college football history and dismissed as unlikely to even make a roster as a quarterback in the pros.

QB Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee)
RB Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State)
WR Brandon LaFell (LSU)
RB/WR Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss)
LB Eric Norwood (South Carolina)
RB Charles Scott (LSU) and RB Michael Smith (Arkansas)
LB Brandon Spikes (Florida)
K Leigh Tiffin (Alabama)

So, in the end, what do you say about Tim Tebow?

Usually, we don't use terms like "a winner" at Team Speed Kills, but what else could you call Tebow? He was a part of two national champions, two SEC champions and three SEC East champions. Florida won 13 games in three of Tebow's four seasons -- the only exception being his Heisman Trophy campaign in 2007, when the defense contributed heavily to many of the four losses.

And still there's a feeling that he didn't reach all of his goals. Tebow, after all, was one of the most outspoken Florida players about making certain that 2009 was a national championship season -- so much so that it brought him to tears when Alabama handed Florida its first loss in the SEC Championship Game. Not that it seemed to have much of an effect on Tebow the player, who incinerated Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl a month later.

As a player, his stats are mind-boggling, even for a player who started three years and had significant playing time in his first season. More than 12,000 yards of total offense. He passed or rushed for 145 touchdowns. For all the questions about his throwing motion, his passer rating was often among the highest in the nation. He was the first player in college football history to throw and run for 20 touchdowns in a single season.

As a person, he was the kind of man that most of us would want our son to be. While some saw his eye black as too sanctimonious, or his good-guy act as little more than an act, those (like your humble correspondent) who saw Tebow as earnest had to admire his ability to follow his faith while becoming one of the most celebrated athletes of the last four years. For everyone who rolled their eyes at Tebow's preaching or snickered at his professed virginity, there were surely as many who thought they would like to do half the job raising their child that Tebow's parents did raising him.

Those who didn't like Tebow -- or at least seemed to be tired of him after four years -- were misdirecting their fire. While Tebow and Florida certainly did little to avoid his fame, it was the media who chose to make him the face of the SEC. As if, with a player that averaged more than 35 touchdowns a season, they had a choice.

Was he one of the greatest college football players of all time? The tendency of the human mind is always to go with the most recent events, with the jump pass against LSU and the demolition derby of 2008 and the rout in the Super Dome still fresh in our minds, and say yes. On some level, there's a lot of merit to that answer. It's almost impossible to believe that Tebow will not be remembered as one of the greatest. But it will take some time to be absolutely sure.

One thing, though, is clear. As long as your team wasn't the one facing him that day, there were few more exciting moments in college football over the last few years than watching Tim Tebow take the snap and wondering what was going to happen next.

Tim Tebow, 2006-09
Passing Rushing
55 661-995 66.4 9,285 88 16 170.79 692 2,947 4.3 57