Beyond the humble, thankful persona that is such a large part of Tim Tebow’s character lies the heart of a warrior. His battleground is wherever he feels led to charge. It might be reaching out to children in the Philippines, speaking about the love of God, or a simple competition among teammates.
The spirit of competition requires the best warriors to be resourceful, something where Tebow has proven to be quite gifted.
“I think it depends on the moment, on the situation, and what’s happening in the game,” Tebow responded when asked about his game persona. “Some situations- it’s better to just be calm. You know, Hey guys, C’mon were going to do it right here. Other situations you need to get a little more emotional about it. I think that it’s just how you see it.”
Might the freshman inspire upperclassmen at one of the top schools in the country with a little fire in his voice?
“I’m not sure until you actually do it,” he said. “You try to do it just as much as you can to motivate people. As a quarterback, that’s your job to be a leader and help motivate the guys around you. You try to do that with everything.”
“That kind of fits my personality,” he said. “I think that I’m kind of intense on the field. That’s how I like to play. I’m pretty passionate about it and pretty passionate about whatever I do playing football. When you’re passionate about something, you care a lot about it and want to do whatever you can trying to get on somebody or pat them on the back or kick them in the butt or whatever it takes.”
Strong leaders lead by example. That is a lesson not at all lost on Tebow. Ask anybody who has watched him over the past few years. He has already begun carving out a new chapter at Florida.
“We were just running sprints,” he said. “I’m competitive. I want to win. So I was just doing anything I could. It was on the basketball court. I was just doing anything I could.”
What he did was dive across the finish line onto the hardwood, hoping to inspire his teammates, despite not having a real chance to win the competition.
“I was just trying to go out there and work hard,” he added. “When other people see you go hard, it makes them want to go hard too. Work ethic is contagious. I’m just trying to set an example too, by going hard myself.”
Tebow’s resourcefulness includes watching, listening, and asking questions that might serve to better prepare him for the next battle. His friendship with Chris Leak has also afforded him the opportunity to pick the brain of the Southeastern Conference’s elder statesmen at quarterback. A solid relationship between the pair should only enhance a shared goal and the ultimate goal of the Florida program- a conference title.
“I was pretty young, but I remember seeing it (Leak’s commitment to Florida) and being happy that he came to the University of Florida,” Tebow acknowledged. “You know, I grew up a Gator fan, so I was happy. We’ve talked about it and some other schools that recruited us and some funny things about that. But, our relationship is good. We have a lot of times during training camp that we’re together, so we get to talk about a lot of stuff.
“We’re a little bit different on the field,” he said comparing their methods. “I’m a little more intense and I grind my teeth. He’s more calm. I think that what I’ve learned from him is to try and be calm. In some situations it’s good to be a little bit gritty. But, he’s definitely calm. You also take that and try to learn from him- how he’s so calm on the field and pretty much with everything.”
One area Tebow is currently struggling with is the touch pass. It happens to be one of Leak’s strong suits. Again, this is where he humbles himself to become the student and take the time to learn from the accomplished.
“I feel that I’m definitely getting better,” Tebow stated. “But, in high school, we didn’t do as many of the shorter routes, so that’s something that I’m getting used to. But, I’m learning a lot from Chris on that too. He does a great job with the underneath ball and putting a touch on it and very accurate with it. That’s something that I’m definitely learning from Chris.”
The 6-2 229 quarterback ran for 3,169 yards and 63 touchdowns in his high school career. He mournfully acknowledged that the Florida coaches have not allowed him to participate in the Circle of Life drill since practice opened. Furthermore, they have also instructed him to avoid seeking out contact when running the ball in the rough and tumble Southeastern Conference- something that he often did in his prep career. Rather tongue in cheek, Tebow said that he’s taking their advice because they possess more coaching experience than he does.
Despite breaking numerous records, having local stations break from their programming to cover his college announcement, and being the feature of a documentary remaining humble has seemingly been no real problem for Tebow. And that’s just another thing that Florida fans love about him.
“I try not to think about it too much,” he said when asked about the attention he has received since arriving on campus. “I realize that I’m really no different from any other freshman here at the University of Florida and to be thankful for it. I just try to be humble too.”
He was asked if he had indeed achieved a perfect 4.0 and he said that he was lucky. In fact, the high school phenom, who walked away with hardware galore is quick to defect praise. He is much more at ease talking about the potential of the team and others, such as when he said that Percy Harvin would have commanded much more time than he in that aforementioned television documentary.
Sense of humor
Tebow certainly enjoys a good laugh. Jarred Fayson told me a few months ago that he and Tebow often joke around when they talked. He said that Tebow joked with him about outrunning him.
Fayson jokingly said in Gator Country’s 2006 Signee Video that he’d love to get Tebow in the Circle of Life because he’d show him up. Besides you can’t hit what you can’t catch.
Today, Tebow was asked if he can get too big lifting weights.
“Well, I’ve heard the story of Dan Kendra at Florida State several times,” he said laughing. “So, I guess it is possible to get too big.”
One of the first questions he was asked was if he enjoyed being on the same sideline as former St. John’s County rivals Brandon James and Jacques Rickerson of St. Augustine High School.
“It’s awesome,” he said with a grin. “I don’t have to lose to them anymore. It’s a lot of fun. They’re both doing great.”
One year ago, I asked him to do a photo shoot in St. Augustine for a feature in Fightin’ Gators Magazine, he jokingly said that he didn’t like St. Augustine very much. At least, I think he was joking. Nease did lose twice to the Yellow Jackets the previous season.
Keep an eye on…
Tebow acknowledged that he has some tendonitis
“Yeah, it’s in my shoulder,” he said. “It’s from throwing and lifting- a lot of use on it. We’ve got great trainers here and they’re taking care of it. It’s not too big of a deal. They’re just trying to watch it so it doesn’t get worse.”
He said that the strength and conditioning coaches, trainers, and Coach (Dan) Mullen has his best interests at heart and are currently monitoring the problem.
When asked his thoughts regarding departing the tunnel and coming out before a packed house in “The Swamp” he stated, “It’ll be fun. It’ll definitely be exciting. You know, growing up a Gator fan, coming into “The Swamp” so many times and now I’m playing in it. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
And who doesn’t want to see the ultimate warrior?