GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Florida quarterback Tim Tebow began his college career as a role player, getting on the field in goal-line and short-yardage situations. He became a team captain, a Heisman Trophy winner and a two-time national champion.
He set records, made history and picked up enough awards to fill just about any trophy case.
He's not finished, either.
Tebow thrilled more than 40,000 fans at the school's national championship celebration Sunday - he also may have sickened some opponents - by announcing plans to return for his senior season and lead the Gators to their first undefeated season.
``That's something they have never done here at the University of Florida, so that's a goal,'' Tebow said. ``Just come back and have fun and try to be the best player I can be and try to go down in history. That's all.''
That's all? He might want to improve his draft status, too.
s, but the 6-foot-3, 240-pound left-hander said the bottom line was he never really wanted to leave school early.
``Overall, I just felt loyal to this place,'' he said. ``I feel like I'm a role model, and a lot of times people start things and don't finish them. I didn't want to be like that. I wanted to be loyal to the university. I wanted to finish what I started and play another year.''
Teammates, coaches and fans welcomed his decision.
``He is so good for college football,'' coach Urban Meyer said. ``He is unbelievable. When my daughter texts me in the morning the Bible verse he has under his eyes it's good for college football, it's good for young people, it's good for everything.''
The son of a missionary who has worked in the Philippines, Thailand and Croatia, and has visited numerous hospitals and prisons, Tebow's too-good-to-be-true persona has reached cult status with his on-field accomplishments.
He threw 32 touchdown passes in 2007, ran for 23 more scores and became the first sophomore to win the Heisman. He did less this season, but accomplished more by leading Florida to its second national title in three years.
Tebow completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,746 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also led the team in rushing for the second straight year, gaining 673 yards and scoring 12 times.
nd two interceptions in Thursday night's 24-14 victory against Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series title game. He also ran for 109 yards, most of it in the second half.
There was speculation he might head to the NFL, especially since he has talked about wanting a bigger platform to share his religious message and expand his community work. But Tebow said that can wait another year.
``It was tough because some of that stuff is tempting at the next level and everything that goes along with it, especially ending on a great note ending with the national championship and moving on from there,'' Tebow said. ``I love these guys and coach Meyer and this program too much and I feel we can still end on a bang next year.''
The Gators had three seniors in the starting lineup against the Sooners, meaning just about everyone could return next season. Receiver Percy Harvin and linebacker Brandon Spikes, fellow juniors considering turning pro, didn't address their futures Sunday. The deadline for underclassmen to apply for the NFL draft is Thursday.
Tebow said he has never worried about injury, so that played no role in his decision. He also said he was looking forward to working with new quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler, who helped develop Chad Henne, Tom Brady and Brian Griese at Michigan.
Tebow told Meyer he planned to come back Saturday, but wasn't sure how to announce his intentions. Meyer suggested he drop the news at the championship celebration. Although fans kept chanting, ``One more year, one more year,'' Tebow might have duped some of them when he walked on stage to the ``Superman'' theme song and started thanking everyone.
Then he called an audible. He turned around, grabbed the microphone and told teammates, coaches and fans exactly what they wanted to hear.
``Oh, by the way, let's do it again,'' Tebow said. ``I'm coming back.''

NCAAF Team Pages

Recent NCAAF Discussions