College Football Throwback Thursday: Tebow hoists Heisman as first sophomore quarterback to win
On Saturday, Lamar Jackson won the 2016 Heisman Memorial Trophy, marking the first time a Louisville player has ever won the award and making Jackson the youngest player ever to win the trophy. However, Jackson was not the first sophomore quarterback to take home the Heisman.
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This week, we throwback to the first sophomore quarterback to nab the Heisman’s winning season: Florida's Tim Tebow in 2007.
Tebow, one of three Heisman winners to be born outside of the U.S., moved from the Philippines to Jacksonville, Fla. with his family. There, he attended Trinity Christian Academy, playing as a tight end with the football team. However, when he began at Nease High, he played as a quarterback, where he earned national recognition as a dual-threat, according to the Heisman Trust.
In 2006, he choose to attend Florida over a number of colleges and universities that attempted to recruit him. During his freshman year, served as a back up to Chris Leak and had the opportunity for some play time, scoring 13 touchdowns and became the team’s second-leading rusher. The Gators won the national championship that year.
But, it was in 2007 that Tebow shined when the quarterback led his Gators to a 9-4 season and a trip to the Capital One Bowl.
In his first college start, Tebow led the Gators to touchdowns on their first four possessions. He went on to complete 13 of 17 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran one into the end zone for a fourth touchdown of the game, ending with a total of 38 rushing yards. Florida defeated Western Kentucky 49-3 after the game was called about eight minutes early due to lighting.
In the second game of the season, Tebow astounded fans again, leading the Gator offense to score each time he touched the ball in the first half against Troy. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions as well as rushing for 93 yards and two more touchdowns. By halftime, the Gators were up by 42 points. However, the Trojans cut the lead down in the second half. Tebow responded, pushing the score to 59-31 with about two minutes left in the game.
In Florida's third matchup of the season, as ESPN.com reported, “Florida’s blue-out turned into a blowout, courtesy of Tim Tebow.”
Here, Tebow threw for almost 300 yards for two touchdowns and ran for 61 yards for another two touchdowns in his first SEC start against Tennessee. He finished with 14 of 19 passes completed, working in multiple passes under some major pressure from a solid Volunteer defense. With the 59-20 victory, Tebow became the first Florida quarterback to beat the Vols in his first try since 1997.
In the game against Ole Miss, Florida barely scraped by with a 30-24 win. However, it was one of Tebow’s best games of the season so far.
He set a school record for rushing 166 yards for four touchdowns as a quarterback, finishing with 261 passing yards as well, according to The Associated Press.
After the team’s first two losses of the season to the Tigers of Auburn and LSU, Tebow and the Gators came to face Kentucky in need of a win.
He threw for a career-high four touchdowns and 256 passing yards. Also, he rushed for 78 yards, and this game served as his eighth straight with a rushing touchdown. The AP reported his ability to run was one of the main reasons Florida pulled out a win.
After Florida lost for the third time to SEC rival, Georgia, Tebow had a record-setting day against Vanderbilt. The AP wrote he broke the quarterback record in the SEC for most rushing touchdowns in a season, also extending his rushing touchdown streak to 10 straight games, which was the longest in the nation. He completed 22 of 27 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns on top of 35 rushing yards and another two touchdowns to help the Gators win 49-22.
His reign continued against South Carolina and FAU, leading the team to win 51-21 and 59-20, respectively.
Against South Carolina, Tebow posted seven touchdowns, five of which were rushing, extending his SEC record and rushing touchdown streak. As for yardage, he threw for a career-high 304 and rushed for 120 yards, which proved to make up most of the Gators’ offense that day.
Tebow, against FAU, became the first FBS player to have 20 rushing touchdowns and 20 passing touchdowns in a season. Also, he again broke his career high for passing yards in a game with 338 for three touchdowns along with another rushing touchdown.
“Tebow certainly solidified his case for the Heisman Trophy,” wrote the AP about the game.
As the season came to a close, Tebow and the Gators looked to end the regular season on a high note, preparing to take on in-state rivals, the Florida State Seminoles.
His performance during this matchup, according to the AP, may have solidified his win of the 2007 Heisman Memorial Trophy. He accounted for five touchdowns, two of which were rushing and four of which were scored on the Gators’ first five possessions. He threw for 262 yards and ran for 89 yards, leading the Gators to win, 45-12.
Before the game was over, the over-90,000 person crowd began chanting “Tebow, Heisman.”
At the end of the season, he tallied 3,132 passing yards for 29 touchdowns, with just six interceptions, and rushed for 828 yards and 22 scores, according to the Heisman Trust.
These stats propelled him to win the Heisman with more than 250 votes more than runner-up Darren McFadden. He spent the next two years at Florida flirting with a second Heisman Trophy, coming in third and fifth in the voting in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and he won another national championship in 2008.
He went on to be selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and now, keeps up with a busy life working with television on the SEC Network and as a professional baseball player in the New York Mets' system.