Quarterback Tim Tebow took center stage as the trigger man for the Florida offense, as spring practice opened today. But, it wasn’t some of the pinpoint throws or checking off and throwing the ball underneath that was his most impressive feat today.
It was Tebow being, well, Tim Tebow. Maturity, leadership, and humbleness were prominently on display at the Florida practice facility. Sure, we all witnessed it last year. But, that was when Tebow played behind Chris Leak, a senior quarterback with three years experience, who returned for his fourth season. Leak had the advantage of playing one season under offensive coordinator Dan Mullen. Tebow was expected to play second fiddle, and he did so and played the role.
Tebow is now in sitting in pole position with the keys comfortably resting in his left hand.
With the talent that surrounds him, what in the world must he be driving?
Obviously, he is working to improve and solidify himself as the starting quarterback. However, he just as eagerly and proudly worked with junior transfer Bryan Waggener and true freshman Cam Newton during today’s practice session. We watched as Tebow provided direction to Newton from time to time after a play. I also saw him say something to Waggener and grab his headgear with a hug.
Yes, it’s “Tebow Time”, but that matters little around here, and rightfully so. Most importantly, it’s “Team Florida” time. If you’ve ever spent a day in organized sports you know that nothing helps a young team grow up more than unity.
“They’re (Waggener and Newton) good guys,” he said. “They like learning and I’m happy to teach them what I know. They try to come out here and work hard everyday.”
“We’re very young,” Tebow said about the team as a whole. “The team is very talented, but we’re very young. So, getting the reps in practice and we need to get more reps, watching film and just growing and a team and maturing, I think is the biggest thing.”
The Florida offense hopes to be much improved. An experienced offensive line returns four starters from the national championship squad. Playmakers like Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, and Cornelius Ingram return at the receivers position. Behind them is a plethora of talent and, oh the speed.
And while the loss of Leak, Steve Rissler, Dallas Baker, Jemalle Cornelius, and DeShawn Wynn will be difficult to overcome, one other player that was repeatedly discussed as the unsung hero of the Florida offense has also moved on- fullback Billy Latsko.
“Right now it’s pretty much the same,” Tebow said of the ofense. “We’re just installing some of the same plays. Maybe when we get down more to the specific stuff it’ll change a little bit, but right now it’s the same. Billy Latsko was a big part of our game. Losing him hurts. It might change a little bit, but if we can find a guy like him we might do some of that stuff. He was a good player.”
Tebow grinned a bit when asked about the potential of Harvin and Caldwell running routes on the field together. The pair have said that they’re out to prove they’re the best tandem of receivers in the country. Count Tebow among those who believe that could well be the case.
“For sure,” he said. “They’ve got that talent for sure. They’re both pretty unbelievable and have superstar potential. Anytime one of them touches the ball they’ve got a chance to take it to the house. They’re special.”
That too will take care of itself. It’s day one of spring practice and we have a long summer before two-a-days’ resume in August. The 6-3 234 southpaw understands that all too well.
“Last season is over,” he said. “The celebration has been over for little while and now we’re trying to get back to work. It was a lot of fun. But, now everybody is at the bottom of the mountain and we have to work our way to the top.”
It’ll be an exciting ride as Tebow takes this Orange and Blue decked out 4×4 to the top of the mountain.