Hernandez recalls Gator days with Tebow

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has known Tim Tebow since they were Florida teammates from 2007 to 2009. So Hernandez, who caught 111 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns in three years as Tebow’s Gator teammate, has a unique perspective of the man, the myth, the legend who the Patriots will be facing Sunday afternoon in Denver.

Hernandez wasn’t exactly expansive when it came to talking about the Broncos’ quarterback. But he did offer a few mostly guarded, politically correct answers to Tebow questions in the Patriots locker room Wednesday.

“He definitely was a leader. I’m sure he still is,” said Hernandez of Tebow, an unorthodox quarterback by NFL standards who has gone 7-1 as a Broncos starter this year, including six wins in a row, most featuring fourth-quarter comebacks.

“He brought a lot of energy to the game,” said Hernandez of their Gator days. “When you have a player with energy, I think everyone [feeds off that energy]. He’s a popular player. A lot of people like him. He gets a lot of media... He’s a very unique person.”

Hernandez was asked if he stays in touch with Tebow.

“We’re good friends. We’ve talked a few times. ‘How you doing? ‘I’m doing good.’ ‘How you doing?’ ‘Have a nice day,’ ” said the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder, who, like Tebow, is in his second year in the league.

Hernandez responded with the Patriots' party line when asked about Tebow’s heroics this season, which have vaulted Denver into the AFC West lead at 8-5.

“He’s a good player. He can do a lot of things. You have to prepare for him to run the ball and pass the ball. But it’s a team game. Their team is playing great,” said Hernandez.

So, Hernandez was asked, as someone who has played with Tebow and the Pats’ Tom Brady, how similar are they as leaders?

“They’re different people,” said Hernandez, who has caught 59 passes for 607 yards and five TDs from Brady this season. “You can’t compare them, but both are great leaders.”