|Tim Tebow's legend grew after fourth-down run at Tennessee|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:16|
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Florida coach Urban Meyer gave Tim Tebow the ball on the most important play of the first big game of last season.|
Tebow did the rest.
He got 2 yards on the fourth-and-1 play at Tennessee, setting up the game-winning touchdown and essentially securing a place in the history of the rivalry.
``It was special,'' Tebow recalled. ``It was a huge play in the game. It definitely gives you an extra sense of confidence and a boost that you helped the team out and you got experience and a big play.''
The Gators probably wouldn't have won the Southeastern Conference championship without Tebow's run. They almost certainly wouldn't have won the national title without Tebow's run.
And who knows what kind of hype would surround the sophomore quarterback without that run?
``That put Tim in elite status,'' Meyer said. ``That's one of the great plays in the history of this school.''
Tebow faces Tennessee again Saturday. This time, though, he will be making his first SEC start and trying to prove that everything he's done up to this point - including the fourth-down run - was no fluke.
``It was a defining moment for him,'' tight end Cornelius Ingram said. ``He came in at a crucial time and made some big first downs for us. He really had the team on his back and did what he needed to do.''
Tebow has completed 31 of 42 passes this season for 536 yards and six touchdowns for fifth-ranked Florida (2-0). He also has 131 yards rushing and three scores.
His ability to run and throw could be cause for concern for the 24th-ranked Volunteers (1-1), who have allowed more than 800 yards in two games.
``Their offense centers on their outstanding quarterback, Tebow,'' Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. ``He is a really special football player, a big guy that can run and throw it. We'll certainly have to do a good job with them.''
But no matter what Tebow did against Western Kentucky and Troy, he understands that what he does against the Vols will provide a much more lasting impression.
He learned that growing up in Florida.
In fact, when Meyer came to Gainesville, he turned to his players to teach him about the rivalry with Tennessee. He probably would have learned more by calling Tebow.
Tebow knows just nearly everything about this one.
He was there for the 1995 game, when Florida scored 48 unanswered points in pouring rain to win 62-37. He was in Knoxville the following year when the Gators scored the first 35 points and then held on.
He remembers Tee Martin helping Tennessee end a five-game losing streak in 1998 and Alex Brown's five-sack performance a year later.
He recalls Jabar Gaffney's controversial catch in 2000, Travis Stephens' big day in 2001, Casey Clausen's Hail Mary in 2003 and James Wilhoit's redemption kick in 2004.
He's heard ``Rocky Top'' so often that ``it gets old.''
And he's seen replays of safety Lawrence Wright's vicious hit on receiver Joey Kent in 1995 - the one that caused Kent to sever his tongue - more often than any of his favorite movies.
``You felt bad for Joey Kent,'' Tebow said. ``Not really.''
Tebow didn't feel bad about picking Florida over Tennessee, either. He realized during the 2004 game, his junior year in high school, that Knoxville wasn't the place for him.
``I think I was the only one not chanting 'Rocky Top,''' he said.
His fourth-down run last year silenced similar chants. It also confirmed everything Meyer thought he knew about his young quarterback.
``I had a feeling, but of course you don't know until he actually does it,'' Meyer said. ``That probably let him know that our coaching staff had a lot of confidence in him. That was one of the big things we got out of that play.''
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