NEW YORK -- Tim Tebow needed only two years of college to
graduate to Heisman Trophy winner, putting the sophomore in a class
Florida's folk-hero quarterback with the rugged running style
and magnetic personality won the Heisman on Saturday night to
become the first sophomore or freshman to take college football's
most prestigious award.
Since 1935, when Jay Berwanger of Chicago won the first Heisman,
every winner had been a junior or senior -- until Tebow, who picked
up quite a souvenir on his first trip to New York.
"I am fortunate, fortunate for a lot of things," Tebow said.
"God truly blessed me and this just adds on. It's an honor. I'm so
happy to be here."
He beat out Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the first
player since 1949 to finish second in consecutive seasons. Tebow
received 1,957 points and 462 first-place votes to McFadden's 1,703
points and 291 first-place votes.
A year after Tebow helped Florida win a national title, and in
his first season as the Gators' starter, the chiseled 235-pound
quarterback in a fullback's body put together a historic campaign.
He's the first major college player to run for 20 touchdowns and
throw 20 TD passes in the same season.
"When I get back to the University of Florida, we're going to
have fun," Tebow said.
In an unpredictable college football season, the Heisman race
was as unsettled as the national title chase. Tebow emerged as the
front-runner even though Florida (9-3) stumbled early.
Six of the last seven Heisman winners picked up their bronze
statues on the way to playing in the national championship game.
Tebow won't get that chance this season, but Heisman voters didn't
hold Florida's failure to defend its national title against him.
McFadden slumped in October before finishing with a huge
November, capping his season with a spectacular performance -- 206
yards rushing, three touchdowns and a TD pass -- in the Razorbacks'
50-48 triple-overtime win over No. 1 LSU. It seems doubtful the
junior with sprinter's speed will return to Arkansas next year to
make another run at the Heisman. Not with some NFL team likely to
make him a top-10 draft pick.
Brennan and Daniel each passed for over 4,000 yards and led
their teams to breakout seasons.
But no player was more important to his team than Tebow.
The closest he came to a bad game came in a 28-24 loss at LSU,
when he completed 12 of 26 passes for 158 yards, throwing for two
scores and running for another. He finished with a school-record
3,970 yards of total offense and accounted for 51 touchdowns.
Simply put, he's the perfect quarterback for coach Urban Meyer's
Florida fans might argue Tebow is just plain perfect.
Tebowisms have become all the rage with Gators fans on the
Internet. A sampling: Superman wears Tim Tebow pajamas. Tim Tebow
has counted to infinity ... twice. Tim Tebow ordered a Big Mac at
Burger King, and got one.
And if joining Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel as the only
Florida players to win the Heisman Trophy wasn't enough to make
Tebow the most popular man in Gainesville, there's one more reason
for Gators fans to be excited: the promise of two more years of
Tebow, who has said he has no plans to leave school after his
The legend of Tebow started at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra
Beach, Fla., where he once finished a game playing on a broken leg.
Homeschooled by missionary parents who run an orphanage in the
Philippines, Tebow took advantage of a Florida state law to play
for Nease, about 90 miles from the University of Florida campus.
Tebow has worked and preached at his parents' orphanage since he
was 15. He regularly speaks at schools and delivered his message of
faith at a prison in Florida earlier this year.
He arrived in Gainesville with superstar status, and Gators fans
could hardly wait to see their quarterback of the future.
In a part-time role as a complement to Chris Leak, Tebow played
with a fiery passion. He bowled over defenders and bounced around
the field, fists pumping and arms waving.
He ran for 469 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman,
throwing only enough to take advantage of defenses stacked to stop
him from running.
This season, the Gators became Tebow's team and at times he was
a one-man offense.
He completed 68 percent of his attempts for 3,132 yards and 29
touchdowns and continued to run with reckless abandon, even while
playing the second half of the season with a very sore shoulder.
Compensating for the Gators' lack of a reliable tailback, Tebow
led Florida with 838 yards rushing and set a Southeastern
Conference record with 22 touchdowns. With speed and a strong arm
to go with his power and grit, Tebow is part throwback to the days
of single-wing football and part 21st century prototype for the
Add winning the Heisman as a sophomore, and Tebow is truly one
of a kind.