Tebow says loyalty is what brought him back

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

In the end, Tim Tebow simply couldn't walk away.

Sure, there were other factors that went into his decision to return to Florida for his senior season. But none were more important than his sense of loyalty to everybody associated with the Gators' football program and all the people who make up the Gator Nation.

"When it came down to it, I just wanted to be loyal to Coach (Urban) Meyer and the University of Florida," said Tebow, who was named Thursday as the winner of the Manning Award, which is the only national quarterback award that takes into account the bowl games.

"I love being here. It's been a joy being here, and I wanted to finish what I started. I'm really enjoying it, and there will be time to do other things once this is done. But I wanted to be loyal to all my guys and all my coaches here."

Tebow is still recuperating from surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder and said he hasn't thrown any since the FedEx BCS National Championship Game. He said he should be full strength in time for the start of spring practice.

"Right now, I'm just trying to get back healthy," said Tebow, who underwent the surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder.

When he does return, he'll be under the guidance of a new quarterbacks coach, former Detroit Lions and Michigan quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler. The two share a close relationship dating back to Tebow's recruitment. Tebow said the only reason he visited Michigan was because of Loeffler.

"I'm going to spend every second I can with him working on things and trying to prepare myself for the next level, but even more importantly, preparing my team to be successful next year," Tebow said.

The Gators will almost certainly be ranked No. 1 in the country going into the 2009 season, but Tebow said those kinds of expectations come with the territory when you're playing at Florida. He's only the third player in college football history to enter a season with a Heisman Trophy and two national championships to his credit.

"Our expectation level is higher than anything anybody else could put on us," Tebow said. "Coming off last season, we're used to expectations. We're used to handling that, and I'm used to handling that. We need to be focused, take it one game at a time and play with enthusiasm and passion every time we step out there and not let the hype get to us."