Another Heisman first for Tim Tebow

Chalk up another Heisman Trophy first for Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Tebow, who two years ago became the first sophomore in the history of the award to win college football’s most prestigious individual honor, will be making his third straight trip to the presentation ceremonies. He is the first player to be invited to the televised presentation, which started in 1982, three times when he was named Monday as one of five finalists for the 75th Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded at the Nokia Theatre in New York City’s Times Square this Saturday night on ESPN.

The other four finalists joining Tebow are Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, running backs Toby Gerhart of Stanford and Mark Ingram of Alabama, and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. McCoy finished second and Tebow third in last year’s Heisman Trophy balloting to winner Sam Bradford, the quarterback from Oklahoma. When it was revealed that some Southwest media voters left Tebow completely off their ballots, the Gators used it as incentive in beating Bradford and the No. 1 Sooners, 24-14, in the BCS National Championship Game,

“Having the chance to go back to New York means a lot to me,” said Tebow. “It is a special honor but it wouldn’t be possible for me to have this opportunity without my teammates and coaches.”

Only one player—Ohio State’s Archie Griffin—has won two Heismans (back-to-back in 1974 and ‘75). And only two former winners—Georgia’s Herschel Walker (1982) and the late Army running back Glenn Davis (1946)—have had three top-3 finishes. Walker was third in 1980 as a freshman and runner-up in 1981 before winning his trophy, while Davis, Army’s “Mr. Outside” to Doc Blanchard’s “Mr. Inside,” was runner-up in 1944 and 1945 (to Blanchard).

“It’s a tremendous honor for Tim to be invited back to the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York City,” Florida head coach Urban Meyer said. “This is a great achievement and he is very deserving of this honor. Tim is a special player whose leadership and character are unparalleled.”

Once again, Tebow is a finalist for both the Maxwell Award (college football’s player of the year according to Philadelphia’s Maxwell Foundation) and the Davey O’Brien Award (for college football’s quarterback of the year) for the third straight season. Tebow won the Maxwell as a sophomore and junior (joining Notre Dame’s 1953 Heisman winner John Lattner as a two-time Maxwell Award winner) and he won the O’Brien honor in 2007 (Bradford won it in 2008). Both the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien winners will be announced Thursday in the Home Depot College Football Awards Show from Disney World in Orlando on ESPN.

The 2009 first-team All-SEC quarterback from the Associated Press, Tebow leads the SEC in completion percentage (65.2) and is second in passing efficiency (155.6), lowest interception percentage (1.8) and rushing touchdowns (13) in the league. He is the only player in NCAA history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in a season, with 32

passing and 23 rushing scores in 2007, and ranks first in the SEC’s record book for the most career rushing touchdowns with 56. He is the SEC’s all-time leading in total offense (11,699 yards—8,803 passing and 2,896 rushing) and touchdowns produced (141—85 passing, 56 rushing).

In late November, Tebow headlined the 2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Football Team. The winner of the Academic All-America of the Year for the second year in a row, he became the first scholar-athlete to be named as the Academic All-America of the Year for university division football in two straight seasons.

In addition, Tebow became the first Gator in any sport to earn first-team Academic All-America honors three consecutive years and the first football player from the Southeastern Conference to be chosen to the first team three straight times. He joins Carlos Alvarez as the only three-time Academic All-Americans in football at Florida, as Alvarez earned first-team recognition in 1969 and second-team accolades in 1970 and 1971.

Tebow has a 3.66 grade-point average majoring in Family, Youth and Community Sciences and will graduate in December.