Timothy Richard "Tim" Tebow (born August 14, 1987 in Manila, Philippines) is a Heisman Trophy-winning American football quarterback for the Florida Gators. He was the first college football player to both rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season and was the first sophomore to win the Heisman.
Tebow played quarterback for Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where he became a Division I-A recruit and ranked among the top quarterback prospects in the nation as a senior. After a tight recruiting battle, he chose to attend the University of Florida over the University of Alabama. Tebow, being a dual threat quarterback adept at rushing and passing the football, was used in his freshman season largely as a change of pace to the Gators' more traditional quarterback, Chris Leak. His contribution in the 2006 college football season was as a key reserve who helped the Gators win college football's national championship game for the first time since 1996.
As a sophomore in the 2007 season, he became the Gators' starting quarterback and broke the Southeastern Conference records for both rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns accounted for in a single season. In addition to the Heisman Trophy, his performance in 2007 also earned him the Maxwell Award as the nation's top football player, the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's best quarterback, and the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete in any sport.
Tebow was born on August 14, 1987 in the Philippines to Bob and Pam Tebow, who were serving as Christian missionaries at the time. While pregnant Pam suffered a life-threatening infection with a pathogenic amoeba. Because of the drugs used to rouse her from a coma and to treat her dysentery, the fetus experienced a severe placental abruption. Doctors expected a stillbirth and recommended an abortion to protect her life. She carried Timothy to term, and both survived.
All of the Tebow children were homeschooled by their mother, who worked to instill the family’s Christian beliefs along the way. In 1996, legislation was passed in Florida allowing homeschooled students to compete in local high school sporting events. The law specifies that homeschooled students may participate on the team of the local school in the school district in which they live. The Tebows lived in Jacksonville, Florida, and Tim played linebacker and tight end at the local Trinity Christian Academy for one season. Tebow's preferred position was quarterback, but Trinity football team's offense did not rely on passing the football, so he began to explore his options to play for a new high school. He decided to attend Nease High School, which under head coach Craig Howard was known for having a passing offense. With the rest of his family living on a farm in Duval County, Tim and his mother moved into an apartment in nearby St. Johns County, making him eligible to play for the football team at Nease. His performance soon turned heads and led to a minor controversy of him being a home-schooled student having his choice of school to play for.
As a junior at Nease, Tebow’s stock rose as he became a major college football quarterback prospect and was named the state of Florida's Player of the Year. He would repeat as Player of the Year in his senior season. One of his highlights as a high school athlete was finishing a game on a broken leg. During his senior season he led the Nease Panthers to a state title, earned All-State honors, was named Florida's Mr. Football and a Parade All-American. Tebow finished his high school career with 9,810 passing yards, 3,186 rushing yards, 95 passing touchdowns and 62 rushing touchdowns. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game in San Antonio, Texas which features the top 78 senior high school football players in the nation and is shown nationally on NBC television.
Tebow was considered one of the nation’s top recruits and was the subject of an ESPN “Faces in Sports” documentary. The segment was titled "Tim Tebow: The Chosen One", and focused on Tim’s homeschool controversy and missionary work in the Philippines, as well as his exploits on the field of play and the college recruiting process. Tim Tebow was also featured in Sports Illustrated on the “Faces in the Crowd” page. In 2007 he was named to FHSAA's All-Century Team that listed the Top 33 football players in the state of Florida's 100 year history of high school football.
Despite having family ties to the University of Florida, where his parents first met as students, he remained open-minded during the recruiting process and became very close to Alabama coach Mike Shula. After careful consideration he decided to play for Urban Meyer's Florida Gators. One of the reasons he chose Florida was because of Meyer's spread option offense, an offense for which Tebow was deemed a prototypical quarterback.
Tebow spent the last three summers before enrolling at the University of Florida in the Philippines, assisting with his father's orphanage and missionary work. He is also a self-proclaimed virgin and is "saving himself" for marriage. Tebow appeared late Saturday night, July 25, 2009 at a Rascal Flatts concert and sang a few lines along with the group and Darius Rucker, as well as signed and tossed a football out into the crowd.
Tebow started his career at Florida in the 2006 "Orange and Blue" Spring scrimmage, where he completed 15 of 21 pass attempts for 197 yards and one touchdown. Coach Urban Meyer declared that Leak would remain the starting quarterback despite the expectations and performance of Tebow in the game. Prior to the 2006 season, Tebow was listed by Sports Illustrated as college football's future top mobile quarterback.
Tebow made his college debut coming off the bench behind Chris Leak in a goal line situation against Southern Miss. He rushed for a touchdown on a designed quarterback scramble on his first play. In his next game, he led the team in rushing yards against UCF.
He made his SEC debut against the Tennessee Volunteers on September 16. His performance included a ten-yard run on his first carry and converting a critical fourth down near the end of the game, which led to the Gators' go-ahead touchdown.
Tebow's biggest game in the season came against the LSU Tigers on October 7, where he accounted for all three of the Gators' touchdowns, passing for two and rushing for another. Tebow had a one-yard run on the goal line for his first score, a one-yard "jump pass" to tight end Tate Casey, in which he jumped in the air and double-pumped his arm before releasing the ball, and a 35-yard play-action pass to wide receiver Louis Murphy.
Tebow played a role in the Gators' victory in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game against Ohio State. He threw for one touchdown and rushed for another, finishing with 39 rushing yards. He finished 2006 with the second-most rushing yards on the Gator team.