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Rob Jenkins - 09/27/09
In (grudging) praise of Tim Tebow

Let's be clear: Tim Tebow is the best college football player I've ever seen. He's the best player you've ever seen, too, even if you won't admit it.

I say that as no lover of the University of Florida. In fact, as a Tennessee alum and lifelong Volunteer fan, my Gator-Hater credentials rival those of any Georgia Bulldog. Indeed, our loathing for the blue and orange (but not Big Orange) is about the only thing most UGA fans and I have in common, sports-wise.

But let me tell you, it's a pretty strong bond.

That said, let me reiterate: Tim Tebow is the best college football player I've ever seen. Not necessarily the best quarterback (that would be fellow Volunteer alum Peyton Manning), but certainly the best player. He's the only player I've ever seen who would be an all-American at tight end, fullback, linebacker, safety - and, of course, quarterback.

And for the record, I think those who say Tebow can't play quarterback in the NFL are nuts. I predict he'll be a very good pro quarterback, if not a great one - and I'm not ruling out great. I'm not ruling out anything with this guy, including NFL commissioner, President of the United States, and Earth's first ambassador to Mars.

After all, this isn't Vince Young we're talking about, or Alex Smith, or Tommy Frazier, or any of those other quarterbacks who made their name in college by running the ball but never panned out in the pros.

Tebow's not even another Michael Vick, who (as the old joke used to go) threw the ball pretty well for a running back.

No, Tebow is another animal altogether, a guy whose natural athletic ability and confidence are matched only by his intelligence and work ethic. He won't run the ball as much in the pros - and certainly not as often between the tackles - but I'm convinced his passing will improve mightily when it has to, while his ability to grind out yards on the turf will make him a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators.

In fact, I predict the former NFL quarterback he'll end up resembling most is another lefty who was known to run around a little bit on occasion - a guy named Steve Young. Remember, Young is the league's all-time leader in career passer rating who also happened to rush for over 4,000 yards.

So I'm looking forward to seeing what Tebow does in the pros. In fact, as a Tennessee fan, I wish he were already there doing it.

And I'm looking forward even more to seeing what Florida can do with somebody else under center. If nothing else, at least they should be much easier to hate once the too-good-to-be true Tebow moves on.

And who knows? Maybe Lane Kiffin will finally get to sing "Rocky Top" all night long.