|RUSSO ON FOOTBALL: Tebow's got 2 years to add another Heisman to his collection|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 09 December 2007 11:29|
The Florida quarterback had been the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy for about 10 minutes Saturday night in Manhattan when the inevitable questions started about winning a second bronze statue.
By the time he got to the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square to face a room full of reporters and was asked again about repeating, he couldn't help but laugh.
``I'm just trying to get ready for Michigan,'' Tebow said.
The Gators play the Wolverines in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, but it's hard not to peek ahead to Florida's 2008 season and wonder if Tebow can join Griffin as the only two-time Heisman winners.
The Ohio State tailback did it in 1974 and '75. Since then, only a handful of players have had a chance to match him.
Oklahoma tailback Billy Sims came close, finishing second to USC's Charles White in 1979. BYU quarterback Ty Detmer (1990), Oklahoma quarterback Jason White (2003) and Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart (2004) also returned to school after winning a Heisman. Each followed-up with a third-place finish.
Tebow has said he plans to complete four seasons at Florida, though he wouldn't be the first kid to change his mind and jump to the NFL early. If he does play out the string and take two more shots at the Heisman Trophy, he could conceivably become the first three-time winner.
Tebow certainly has the talent to win another Heisman. He's no fluke.
He's got the team to do it, too. He'll be surrounded by potential All-Americans and future NFL draft picks.
Playing for Urban Meyer, Tebow has a coach who's about as good as there is at putting together an offense.
But what won the Heisman for Tebow was his workload, especially in the running game. The 235-pound battering ram averaged 16 carries a game and set a Southeastern Conference record with 22 rushing touchdowns.
Meyer didn't have a tailback he could trust, so Tebow doubled as the Gators' No. 1 running option. He became the first player in major college history to reach 20 rushing touchdowns and 20 touchdown passes, an eye-catching stat that no doubt lured in many votes.
It's unlikely Tebow will be able to go 20-20 or lead the Gators in rushing again, simply because he might not have the opportunity.
``We're not concerned about winning another Heisman,'' Meyer said. ``We're trying to win another SEC championship.''
Fellow sophomore Percy Harvin, another combo player who was the Gators' second leading rusher and receiver, could be to Tebow what Reggie Bush was to Leinart.
The year after Leinart won the Heisman, Bush was the guy getting the preseason hype. Bush had a sensational season and ran away with the award.
If Harvin can just stay healthy, he's a potential superstar.
And more help is on the way for Tebow.
Mon Williams, who would've been Florida's starting tailback this season if not for a spring knee injury, and USC transfer Emmanuel Moody will be in the Gators' backfield next season.
It's probably in Tebow and the Gators' best interest to limit his blasts into the middle of the line. While Tebow may seem indestructible, he took a pounding this season. The left-hander needed pain killing shots in his right shoulder for most of the second half of the season and he broke his right hand in the season-finale against Florida State.
Also working against a Tebow repeat is a general tendency among voters to want to give somebody else a chance. Clearly that was part of the reason Leinart and White failed to double up. It's not like either had a big fall off in performance the season after winning the Heisman.
Leinart passed for 3,322 yards and 33 touchdowns when he won the Heisman and 3,815 yards and 28 TDs the year after, when he finished behind Bush and Vince Young.
White passed for 3,744 yards and 40 touchdowns in his Heisman year and had 3,205 yards and 35 touchdown passes the next season, when he finished behind Leinart and teammate Adrian Peterson.
What Tebow does have working in favor of him winning another Heisman is Florida's record this season. He was able to win the award even though the Gators lost three games and fell out of the national championship chase in October. That's a rarity these days.
He's the first Heisman Trophy winner since Ricky Williams in 1998 not to play in the Bowl Championship Series and one of only three since Williams not to play in the national title game.
There's a good chance Florida will be better next year, with Tebow and Harvin back and an improved, more experienced defense.
If Florida plays for a national championship, Terrific Tim's numbers might not have to be so gaudy for him to win another Heisman and double the size of Griffin's club.
Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press. Write to him at rrusso(at)ap.org.