Tebow returns home with family, Meyer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is back home after spending the night in the hospital with a concussion. How long before he plays again is now the big question facing the Gators.

Tebow was released from a Lexington, Ky., hospital Sunday morning, about 12 hours after sustaining a concussion in the Gators' 41-7 victory at Kentucky. He was held for precautionary reasons and test.

"Tim is doing fine this morning," said coach Urban Meyer, who stayed behind with Tebow. "His CT scans came back and indicated that Tim suffered a concussion. Our medical and athletic training staff will continue to monitor him to determine how much rest and recovery he needs. We will have additional information and updates this week."

Tebow flew back to Gainesville with Meyer and his family Sunday afternoon.

The top-ranked Gators (4-0) are off next week, then play at LSU on Oct. 10. It might be several days, maybe longer, before Tebow's status becomes clearer for what could be the toughest game on the defending national champions' schedule.

It would be even tougher without Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and the heart and soul of the Gators.

But his return home was welcome news for Florida players, coaches and fans who watched Tebow lay motionless on the field at Commonwealth Stadium.

"Everyone is concerned about Tim, and our thoughts and our prayers are with him and his family," said associate head coach and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, who filled in for Meyer on the head coach's television show Sunday.

The Gators were leading 31-7 in the third quarter and were driving deep in Kentucky territory when defensive end Taylor Wyndham came unblocked off the right end and sacked Tebow. As Tebow fell backward, his helmet struck teammate Marcus Gilbert's leg, violently bending his neck forward.

Teammates and trainers rushed to Tebow's side, but several minutes passed before the quarterback sat up with help and then slowly made his way off the field. Florida's medical staff attended to him on the bench, and his parents came down from the stands to join him.

He started vomiting -- a common symptom of concussions -- and was carted off the field. About a dozen Gators fans showed up at the hospital after the game, standing outside in the rain and wishing the best for Tebow.

The injury ended what had been another impressive performance from the senior. He ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and threw for 103 yards and a score -- numbers that seemed unimportant the second he hit the turf.

Backup John Brantley replaced Tebow and completed 4 of 6 passes for 30 yards, including an 8-yard TD pass to Riley Cooper in the fourth.

If Tebow isn't able to play against the Tigers, Brantley would make his first career start.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Ocala has completed 73 percent of his passes for 232 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception, this season. Although Brantley has played mostly in mop-up duty, Meyer's plan all along was to get him meaningful snaps every game.

Now, they could really count. The Gators say they have nothing but confidence in Brantley.

"If you look at our future, it's going to be John Brantley," Strong said. "He does a great job. He knows how to manage this offense."

Certainly, the offense would change under Brantley. The Gators, second in the nation in rushing (307.5 yards a game), would probably become more of a passing team. Of course, they need to get their receivers healthy to make that happen. Deonte Thompson (hamstring) has missed the last two games, and Cooper was one of four starters who took a separate plane to Lexington because of respiratory and congestion issues.

Tebow was on that flight, too. So his day started and ended with health concerns.

If Tebow wasn't feeling well, it didn't show. The Gators scored 31 points in the first quarter and had the game in hand when Tebow got knocked out.

Meyer probably will face questions about why he still had his superstar on the field in a lopsided game, especially considering Tebow had missed two days of practice because of a respiratory illness.

But the Gators sputtered in the second quarter against Kentucky and struggled in the passing game last week against Tennessee. And pulling Tebow is always tough because he wants to play every down. Typically, the bruising 245-pound quarterback jumps to his feet after big hits -- some even harder than Wyndham's sack.

"He's a tough nut," Meyer said after the game. "We think he's going to be fine."

Added linebacker Brandon Spikes: "I'm pretty sure he's going to get himself together."