Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lancers' Griffin commits to UConn

H.S. Football: Lancers' Griffin commits to UConn
New Hampshire Union Leader Sports
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007

One glance at Londonderry High's Ryan Griffin and it's difficult to look away.

The 6-foot-6, 227-pound senior has been described as a "physical specimen" by several New Hampshire high school football coaches.

The University of Connecticut coaching staff apparently agrees.

Griffin said last night that he accepted a full scholarship on Monday to play Big East football for UConn.

"It happened so quickly. They offered it Sunday night, (UConn offensive line coach and recruiter Mike Foley) visited Monday and I took it right there," said Griffin, recruited to play tight end. "Can I believe it? I think I can believe it. I put in the work. It's definitely inspiring."

"We verbally shook hands. It's an honorable agreement between men at this point," Joe Griffin, Ryan's father, said. "When all is said and done on national signing day, that's where he'll be going."

Griffin, recruited during his middle school days to play quarterback at New Hampton Prep, isn't the only local talent Granite Staters can continue to follow on the big-time college gridiron.

Carl Cutler, Hanover's 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior tight end/linebacker, accepted a full scholarship earlier this year to play football for Syracuse University. Josh Lane, the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Pinkerton Academy of Derry offensive/defensive lineman, accepted a full scholarship last Saturday to play for the University of New Hampshire.

UNH also offered Griffin a scholarship last spring at Boston College's football camp. UConn wasn't represented at the camp, Griffin said. But word of his size and speed still made it to Storrs, Conn.

That will happen, outgoing Londonderry head coach Tom Sawyer said, when an athlete of Griffin's size and weight runs a "4-7 (4.7 seconds) and change in the 40 (-yard dash)."

UConn wasted little time acquiring game footage of Griffin. Soon after the Huskies hit him with a blitz of the scholarship variety.

"Connecticut, once the blood was in the water and they saw film of him, they were very aggressive," Griffin's father said.

Sawyer, who retired at the conclusion of the 2007 season, said UConn's coaches will be welcoming an "impact player" to campus. In Londonderry's Single Wing offense, Griffin earned Most Valuable Player honors. He scored nine touchdowns and rushed for 749 yards on 95 carries in '07. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 160 yards and a TD (no INTs) and caught 10 passes for 147 yards and a score.

UConn, Sawyer said, is searching for play-making threats in the passing game. Griffin could provide that boost.

"Right now, they're like a Big Ten team. They're going to slug it out (with the running game)," Sawyer said of UConn. "They're looking for guys who can go up and catch the football, help them take the next step, and beat those spread teams."

"I've been blessed to have people who tell me what I need to work on," said Griffin, who said the UConn coaches want him at a playing weight of 255 pounds by the end of his freshman year. "There's pressure, but you've got to live with it. If you don't deal with it, you break and you don't go to Connecticut. There's no other choice for me."

Pinkerton's Lane, much like Griffin, said he didn't hesitate when the Wildcats made their offer.

"Coach (Sean) McDonnell came to school on Friday and offered the scholarship," said Lane, whose older brother, Jason, is a scholarship offensive lineman at Northeastern. "I had my mind made up. I wanted to do Division I-AA. If not, I would go to prep school. (UNH) was my top choice. I didn't even bother waiting around."

Lane said the UNH coaches will likely use him as an offensive guard or center. En route to their third consecutive Division I title this season, the Astros routinely ran behind the powerful and aggressive lineman. In fourth-down conversion situations, Lane was always asked to clear the way, Pinkerton head coach Brian O'Reilly said.

Equally dominant on the defensive line this season, Lane ranked sixth on the team in tackles (68). He also recorded 15 tackles for a loss and three quarterback sacks.

"Josh Lane is the best lineman I've ever had in my program. No one has ever compared to him," O'Reilly said after the D-I championship game. "Josh Lane is immense on both sides of the ball. He's the nicest kid you'd ever want to meet. But on a football field, he is one of the meanest kids I have ever coached. He is all business on a football field."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stone Bridge pummels Potomac

PREP FOOTBALL: Stone Bridge pummels Potomac for D-5 title

By Scott Ratcliffe / Daily Progress correspondent
December 9, 2007

Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson finally got over the hump. On a Saturday afternoon when the 18-year coach returned to his alma mater’s stadium to play for the VHSL Division 5 championship, his Bulldogs made it look easy, knocking off previously undefeated Potomac, 38-0, at Scott Stadium.

“So many guys are getting their opportunities, and there’s no jealousy, there’s no fighting, and the guys just played hard together, and I thought that was a big part of what happened today,” Thompson said. “We’ve got so many playmakers and so many guys who can make a big play, it’s incredible.”

Both teams got off to a seemingly slow start, as neither managed to score in the opening quarter. Potomac had a few golden opportunities early, but squandered them away with turnovers, penalties, and a botched snap on a field-goal attempt with a few seconds to play in the first quarter.

It appeared as if the fans in attendance would possibly be in for a defensive stalemate. Stone Bridge’s duo of quarterback Patrick Thompson (the coach’s son) and receiver Ryan Moody, however, would soon give their faithful something to cheer about, and they did it in a big way.

Just a minute into the second quarter, Thompson connected with Moody on a 42-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead, and the two were just getting started. Potomac running back Darius Brent helped give the Panthers a shot to tie the game on the ensuing drive with a 32-yard scamper, leading his team down to the Stone Bridge 19-yard line. Panther kicker Eric Dobratz missed a 36-yard attempt, and the score remained 7-0.

The Bulldog offense moved the ball right back into Potomac territory, and with tremendous protection from the offensive line, Thompson threw a laser to Moody that was caught, but when he hit the ground the ball popped up in the air, and reserve tight end John Bladel came out of nowhere to get a hand under it in the end zone, pushing the Bulldogs lead to 14-0.

Moody had fumbled the ball away late in the 2005 state championship game, a game that Stone Bridge lost, and he says that still haunts him to this day.

“I felt so bad for the seniors of that class,” Moody admitted. “I still think about it, I thought about it last night before this game. ‘Keep my eye on the ball’ was the gameplan for me for today. I told [Coach] Thompson all year, I owe him this ring, and I felt like I did a good job getting him that ring today.”

Potomac started a nice drive into Stone Bridge territory, but again shot itself in the foot, as Panthers quarterback DeAirius Thomas was clobbered as he threw a pass, and Stone Bridge’s Jeron Gouveia picked off the pass at the 25-yard line with just two minutes left in the first half. Stone Bridge drove the length of the field with the help of direct snaps and fake handoffs, and Ronnie Shaban kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Bulldogs a 17-0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Gouveia, who plays both offense and defense, converted on two third downs and one fourth down, to give Stone Bridge another opportunity to score, and Thompson again hooked up with his favorite target, Moody, this time from 48 yards out with 4:11 left in the period.

Then, just when Potomac coach Ted Lilly thought his team would make a game of it, the Panthers turned the ball over on downs twice. Stone Bridge added to its lead, as Thompson again hit Moody on a 20-yard strike with about 7 minutes left, to go up 31-0. Junior halfback Daniel Allen added a 6-yard touchdown run with 4:03 to play to seal the deal.

Patrick Thompson finished the game with 286 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Moody had six grabs for 158 yards and three trips to the end zone.

Potomac committed 13 penalties for 104 yards, turned the ball over three times and was just 2 of 9 on third-down conversions. Brent finished with a team-high 61 yards rushing, and Donald Vaughn led the Panthers with 84 yards receiving on four catches.

“It’s been a heck of a ride for us this season,” coach Lilly said after the game. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the young men that I had an opportunity to work with this season.”

Potomac’s defense held the single-wing offense of Stone Bridge to just 67 yards, but gave up big plays through the air. The Panthers finished the season with a record of 13-1.

Thompson was asked what it was like winning his first championship at his alma mater, with his sons contributing significantly.

“It was one of those things that people dream of,” he said. “Words can’t describe it.”

Tough Lost For Bearden


Baker gets recipe just right

Posted on Sunday, December 9, 2007

The perfect script ended with a perfect ending.

Senior Josh Baker kicked a 22-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to give No. 2 Mount Ida a 17-16 victory over top-ranked Bearden in the Class 2 A final before a crowd of 5, 284 on Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

It was the first state championship for the Lions (15-0 ), the only team in Arkansas to finish with a perfect record this fall.

Baker was perfect, too He attempted only two field goals this season, but, of course, nobody in Montgomery County will remember his successful 35-yarder in a blowout victory over Danville in the first round of the playoffs. “In practice, he’s usually dead-on from 45 [yards ] in,” Mount Ida Coach Michael White said. “We were very confident in the decision there. He’s real good from that hash mark, at that angle.” Baker’s field goal capped a dramatic 1 10-play, 76-yard drive in the final 2 / 2 minutes that erased a 16-14 Bearden lead. Baker, the game’s most valuable player, ran eight times for 40 yards on the drive. But it also included a 36-yard pass from senior quarterback Taylor Elder to junior wide receiver Josh DePriest to the Bearden 18 with 1: 25 remaining. Five consecutive runs by Baker allowed Mount Ida to reach the 5 and use its final timeout to set up its field-goal attempt, from the left hash mark, with nine seconds remaining.

After Bearden’s final timeout, Baker, a straight-on kicker, successfully drilled the attempt through the collegiate-width uprights in the north end zone.

Baker recovered a fumble as Bearden tried to lateral on the ensuing kickoff, a fitting ending since he rushed 37 times for 159 yards and 1 touchdown and had a team-high 13 tackles at linebacker.

“The Baker kid proved he’s one of the best around,” Bearden Coach Mike Cox said. “It’s hard to go in there and kick the field goal playing every down of the game and have to play as hard as he did.” Bearden (13-1 ) was trying to give Ouachita County a state championship for the first time since Camden in 1952.

But the Bears, who were playing in their first final, had 4 turnovers and were penalized 6 times for 60 yards.

Maybe more important, standout senior quarterback Dewayne Watts was hampered much of the day with a knee problem he’s had the past three weeks, Cox said.

Watts helped Bearden overcome a 14-0 second-quarter deficit — the first time the Bears trailed this fall — with a touchdown pass and 2, two-point runs.

But Watts, who entered with more than 1, 000 yards rushing and 1, 000 yards passing this season, clearly was limited physically. He accounted for only 52 yards rushing and 58 yards passing.

Bearden spent much of the second half snapping directly to senior tailback Carlos Chambers in Single-Wing and Spread sets.

“We just didn’t get it done,” Cox said. “I probably didn’t help myself. I should have just ran the ball when we had a lead. Bottom line is we just came up short. We ain’t got no excuses. They just beat us today.” Mount Ida outgained Bearden 309-211, had no turnovers and had a 27: 58-20: 02 advantage in time of possession.

Mount Ida, which won its final three playoff games by a combined five points, finished the season plus-40 in turnover ratio.

“That’s been a big factor in all our games,” said White, a 1993 Mount Ida graduate and former Lions player. “We’ve had a lot of close games. Getting that turnover margin in our favor has won several games along the way. It gave us a chance to get here. When we got here, the same thing happened.” The Lions opened the game with a 17-play, 64-yard drive that ended in Baker’s 1-yard touchdown run with 4: 28 left in the first quarter.

The drive, which included two fourthdown conversions, consumed 7: 32.

Defense set up Mount Ida’s second touchdown.

Senior linebacker Chase Whittington raked the ball away from Watts on a keeper, and senior defensive end Randall Dickerson recovered the fumble at the Bearden 29 with 11: 37 remaining in the first half.

Nine plays later, Elder scored on a 1-yard run with 7: 19 remaining in the first half.

At that point, Mount Ida had run 38 plays for 140 yards and held possession for 14: 46. Bearden had run just five plays for 22 yards, with only 1: 55 of possession time.

“We had trouble with their front,” Cox said. “Their offensive line kind of dominated us a little bit. But we don’t have anything to be ashamed of. We represented pretty well, I thought.” Aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty, Bearden moved 81 yards in 10 plays to finally score late in the first half.

Chambers took a direct snap and ran 4 yards for the touchdown with 1: 58 remaining in the second quarter. Watts ran for two points on a power sweep around left end to cut Mount Ida’s lead to 14-8 at halftime.

Bearden took its only lead when, on fourth-and-3, Watts threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Michael Belin and then ran for two points with 5: 31 left in the third quarter.

Bearden seized the momentum midway through the fourth quarter when it stopped Mount Ida on fourth down from the Bears’ 41.

But after the only punt of the game rolled dead at the Mount Ida 19 with 2: 35 remaining, the Lions wouldn’t be denied the perfect ending.

“We have to play hard to compete with the athletes like Bearden’s,” White said. “That’s why we’re here and that’s why we won. It’s because of the desire and the passion of the kids.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
212 N. East Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Sawyer the Soothsayer

Excerpt From:

2007 High School Football Wrap-up
Extra Points

Hector Longo

Sawyer the Soothsayer

Eyes were rolling all over the region, starting with these two, and all over the Granite State when Londonderry High coach Tom Sawyer announced he was switching from the already run-crazed wing-T to the even more antiquated, but ground-game friendly, single-wing.

The snickering ceased in Week 1, when senior Alex Theodhosi set out on the most prolific Lancer running campaign of all-time and Londonderry earned a return to the Division 1 playoffs.

Theodhosi, who ran for 584 yards as a junior, nearly gained four times that, becoming the region's second 2,000-yard rusher by finishing with 2,041 yards on 259 carries in 11 games.

Not since 1998-99 when Steve Miller put up back-to-back 1,400-yard seasons has a Lancer finished so high on the regional rushing chart.
The Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company
100 Turnpike St
North Andover, MA 01845

Monday, December 10, 2007

One-on-one with Coach Dan Mullen

Larry Vettel
Dec 21, 2004

Sunday evening I had a chance to visit on the phone with one of the new members of the Gator coaching staff, quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen. After helping Alex Smith to a top four finish in the Heisman voting, Mullen will attempt to do the same with Gator junior-to-be Chris Leak. Here is a partial (edited) transcript.

Vettel: How tough has it been to prepare for the opportunity at Florida while still doing justice to Utah and the kids who got you to this point?
Mullen: It's been real tough, I mean Urban's put together a great plan. I have yet to make it to Gainesville even, which I can't wait to get down there. But I've been staying here trying to keep people focused on the bowl game in our own program. The great thing that's happened for us out here is that the University of Utah has hired a new head coach, Kyle Whittingham, the defensive coordinator who is already here. That alone has brought complete stability back to the program and allowed the kids breathe a sigh of relief and now get their focus back on football and winning this bowl game.

Vettel: Talk to me about this offense. It does a lot of similar things to what Florida does, but also mixes in some unique things with the quarterback running with the ball. How would you describe what you guys do out there?

Mullen: Really when the offensive was created what we wanted to do was spread people out and make them defend the entire field. When you talk to defensive coaches, what causes them the most issues, you know? One being a team that can throw the ball. If you want to be a successful passing team in college the best way you do that is by spreading the field out, getting into empty sets, spread it out and let the quarterback see what's really going on. When I was at Notre Dame with Bob Davie we'd be playing Tennessee and Michigan and those people. You know he'd be kinda worried but feeling okay with the defense. Then we'd go play Navy and he'd be in a cold sweat, so what we tried to is combine the option football with that spread passing attack to really cause defense problems and force them to stay in one defense.

Vettel: Most teams are either pass-oriented or run oriented. They are option teams or they're not. You're basically creating a three-style hybrid. My question is, how hard is that to teach, and thus how hard will it be for returning players to learn here in Gainesville?

Mullen: In all the offenses I've been involved with I think it's the easiest offense. Now, the tricky part is it takes a little while to get used to it. But once you have things down, very little changes. We don't change a whole lot of our plan from week to week. When you're coaching the quarterback and you can say, okay this is the defense they're running this week, he'll come in and say, I pretty much know the game plan already because I know how we attack this defense. Our goal obviously is by the end of spring and by the end of camp, to get everything cranked up and everybody on it for the opening game against Wyoming next year and we get a chance to let it go a little bit.

Vettel: One thing that Urban said in his press conference that really stuck with me was that, really there is no offense, per se. There is a scheme and a philosophy that is tailored to the personnel. You've had it with Josh Harris at Bowling Green and now Alex Smith at Utah, now you're inheriting a guy in Chris Leak who has had quite a bit of success. Give us a sense of how things can be tailored for the skills of the quarterback.

Mullen: What we'll do is in designing who is going to carry the ball, or who is going to touch the ball. What we can go is tweak little things on reads. We were at Bowling Green and we had Josh Harris, who was basically a 235-pound tailback who could throw the ball. We would just line up there and almost be a single-wing team and let him pound away at people. When we came out here to Utah, well, we had Alex, and the best way to make people defend was to find more ways to get the ball into the running backs hands and one way to do that was to make people back up and defend the pass. From everything I know about Chris (Leak) he's a great student of the game and he's obviously a great passer. From what I've seen so far he going to be much more in the mold of an Alex Smith; a smart, good decision maker who is a great passer. So we can kind of stay on the same path we've been on here. The thing I'm excited about is I hear there are great wide receivers and a lot of skill guys we can create matchups against and cause some issues for the defense that way.

Vettel: Yeah, you got some good toys to play with.

Mullen: I can't wait, I'm thrilled and I think it's going to be exciting, you know and I hope all the kids down there are excited to get to learn a new offense. Our offense is a lot of fun and kids enjoy playing in it because there are a lot of ways to spread the ball around. If you're a receiver you are going to get to run with the ball we're going to pitch it to you and you're gonna run. If you're a running back, we're going to throw the ball to you and move it that way. We're going to try and create matchups and get the ball into our playmakers hands as much as possible.

Vettel: Have you had a chance to talk with Chris Leak?

Mullen: I spoke with him briefly, just to introduce myself. He and I talked and his biggest focus right now, and Chris knows this, is to beat the Hurricanes. That'll be a great launching point for our season next year to come away from the Peach Bowl with a big victory.

Later this week I'll have more with Dan Mullen, including his personal scouting report on the Gators' new head coach. Plus he shares his thoughts on spending New Year's Eve watching the Gators and Hurricanes, and why it's important to all the coaches coming to Gainesville that Utah get the job done against Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Is Florida's Tebow Revolutionizing The Position?

By ANDY STAPLES, The Tampa Tribune
Published: December 8, 2007

NEW YORK - The scene looks so familiar. A linebacker-sized quarterback in the shotgun. Five receivers, spread the entire width of the field.

The quarterback takes the snap and runs into the teeth of the line. He bursts through. The free safety stands in his way. The poor, poor free safety. The quarterback dips his shoulder. Kaboom! The free safety lands on his back. Two defenders finally wrestle the quarterback down inches short of the goal line.

Another one for the Tim Tebow highlight reel, right? Not exactly.

The scene is the first play of a highlight video for Los Alamitos (Calif.) High junior quarterback Clark Evans. And thanks in part to the 51 TDs scored this season by Tebow, the University of Florida's sophomore quarterback, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Evans could become one of the nation's most prized recruits next year.

After tonight, the demand for a single-wing tailback with a howitzer for an arm may soar. Tebow could become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy in the award's 72-year history.

While Tebow, Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden, Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel wait to learn who will claim the trophy, coaches from schools throughout the country are scouring high schools looking for the next Tebow. Meanwhile, thanks to Tebow, junior varsity linebackers, tight ends and fullbacks may go to bed tonight dreaming of one day tossing TD passes and freight-training free safeties.

"I've been saying it all season. I think Tim Tebow is revolutionizing the position," ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. "There are kids who are in middle school now, built like linebackers or tight ends, and they've always been pushed in a certain kind of way as a 13-, 14- or 15-year-old.

"Now they see Tim Tebow, who's built like a linebacker, but he has the ability to throw the ball and now there's a place for that guy in this spread offense."

Even teams that don't use the spread may want a Tebow-type running their offense.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, Florida's first Heisman Trophy winner and one of the nation's best molders of pro-style, drop-back quarterbacks, decided after this season he needs an athlete - not just a pure passer - under center. To that end, he hopes former Jefferson High star Stephen Garcia, a mobile, 6-3, 215-pounder, can win Carolina's starting job next season.

"You need a guy back there who can move around," Spurrier said, "because four or five times in the course of a game, you have an opportunity to change things." recruiting analyst Barry Every believes other coaches who run more traditional offenses may alternate between recruiting drop-back passers and what recruitniks call "dual-threat" quarterbacks. Every, who said West Virginia quarterback Pat White deserves as much credit as Tebow for the paradigm shift at quarterback, said coaches who run pro-style offenses might use the athletic quarterback as a change of pace. Florida did it last year, spelling Chris Leak with Tebow. This season, LSU played its way to the national title game with pro-style quarterback Matt Flynn occasionally replaced by dual-threat Ryan Perriloux.

"You're really going to see schools try to get an athletic quarterback," Every said.

Recruiting rankings have begun to reflect that demand. Rivals lists Terrelle Pryor, a 6-6, 235-pound dual-threat quarterback from Jeannette, Pa., as the nation's No. 1 prospect in the class of 2008.

Meanwhile, across the country, Los Alamitos coach John Barnes is preparing for the onslaught of college coaches who will try to get Evans to make their campus his home in 2009. Barnes, who used four-receiver sets before Evans, said he has switched to a version of the spread, except near the goal line. There, Barnes said, Evans runs a 1950s-style single-wing. Evans threw for 2,358 and 16 touchdowns and ran for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games as a junior. Do those numbers ring familiar?

"I tell coaches," Barnes said, "he's Tim Tebow."

But the Tebow effect hasn't only changed offenses. Just ask Armwood coach Sean Callahan, whose team lost to Tebow's Ponte Vedra Beach Nease team in the 2005 Class 4A state title game.

"We changed our defense," Callahan said, "because of him."

Callahan realized he needed faster defensive linemen to stop the spread. Now, when it comes time to place a player on offense or defense, Callahan makes sure his biggest, fastest players go to the defensive line - because they might stand a chance against a rampaging 235-pound QB.

Still, some believe the Tebow effect may be limited because Tebow may have once-in-a-generation ability.

"Is he going to revolutionize the position? I don't see many out there like him," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said this week. "That's a very unusual skill set he has. I don't see many Tebows out there."

Maybe because they've all been playing linebacker or defensive end. But the next generation of football players may not feel constrained by an antiquated idea of how a quarterback should look. Want proof? Go to Google and enter the phrase "next Tim Tebow" into the search box.[See Video below]

Then click the second link and watch Clark Evans and imagine how many more running, throwing juggernauts dot the football landscape. And while you're at it, pity the poor, poor free safeties who'll get steamrolled by a quarterback revolution.

Reporter Andy Staples can be reached at (352) 262-3719 or

The Next Tim Tebow?

Watching Junior quarterback Clark Evans of Los Alamitos (Calif.), it doesn't take long to find a quarterback to compare him to. How many other quarterbacks in the country run the ball like Mike Alstott and have a good enough arm to play quarterback in college?

Los Alamitos coach John Barnes is preparing for the onslaught of college coaches who will try to get Evans to make their campus his home in 2009. Barnes, who used four-receiver sets before Evans, said he has switched to a version of the spread, except near the goal line. There, Barnes said, Evans runs a 1950s-style single-wing. Evans threw for 2,358 and 16 touchdowns and ran for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games as a junior. Do those numbers ring familiar?

"I tell coaches," Barnes said, "he's Tim Tebow."

Single-Wing Touchdowns the Diffence In Heisman

Tebow Makes Heisman History

NEW YORK (AP) — Tim Tebow needed only two years of college to graduate to Heisman Trophy winner, putting the sophomore in a class by himself.

Florida's folk-hero quarterback with the rugged running style and magnetic personality won the Heisman on Saturday night to become the first sophomore or freshman to take college football's most prestigious award.

Since 1935, when Single-Wing Tailback, Jay Berwanger of Chicago won the first Heisman, every winner had been a junior or senior — until Tebow, who picked up quite a souvenir on his first trip to New York.

"I am fortunate, fortunate for a lot of things," Tebow said. "God truly blessed me and this just adds on. It's an honor. I'm so happy to be here."

He beat out Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the first player since 1949 to finish second in consecutive seasons. Tebow received 1,957 points and 462 first-place votes to McFadden's 1,703 points and 291 first-place votes.

Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was third, and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel fourth.

A year after Tebow helped Florida win a national title, and in his first season as the Gators' starter, the chiseled 235-pound quarterback in a fullback's body put together a historic campaign. He's the first major college player to run for 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season.

"When I get back to the University of Florida, we're going to have fun," Tebow said.

In an unpredictable college football season, the Heisman race was as unsettled as the national title chase. Tebow emerged as the front-runner even though Florida (9-3) stumbled early.

Six of the last seven Heisman winners picked up their bronze statues on the way to playing in the national championship game. Tebow won't get that chance this season, but Heisman voters didn't hold Florida's failure to defend its national title against him.

McFadden slumped in October before finishing with a huge November, capping his season with a spectacular performance — 206 yards rushing, three touchdowns and a TD pass — in the Razorbacks' 50-48 triple-overtime win over No. 1 LSU. It seems doubtful the junior with sprinter's speed will return to Arkansas next year to make another run at the Heisman. Not with some NFL team likely to make him a top-10 draft pick.

Brennan and Daniel each passed for over 4,000 yards and led their teams to breakout seasons.

But no player was more important to his team than Tebow.

The closest he came to a bad game came in a 28-24 loss at LSU, when he completed 12 of 26 passes for 158 yards, throwing for two scores and running for another. He finished with a school-record 3,970 yards of total offense and accounted for 51 touchdowns.

Simply put, he's the perfect quarterback for coach Urban Meyer's spread-option offense.

Florida fans might argue Tebow is just plain perfect.

Tebowisms have become all the rage with Gators fans on the Internet. A sampling: Superman wears Tim Tebow pajamas. Tim Tebow has counted to infinity ... twice. Tim Tebow ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.

And if joining Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel as the only Florida players to win the Heisman Trophy wasn't enough to make Tebow the most popular man in Gainesville, there's one more reason for Gators fans to be excited: the promise of two more years of Tebow, who has said he has no plans to leave school after his junior season.

The legend of Tebow started at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where he once finished a game playing on a broken leg.

Homeschooled by missionary parents who run an orphanage in the Philippines, Tebow took advantage of a Florida state law to play for Nease, about 90 miles from the University of Florida campus.

Tebow has worked and preached at his parents' orphanage since he was 15. He regularly speaks at schools and delivered his message of faith at a prison in Florida earlier this year.

He arrived in Gainesville with superstar status, and Gators fans could hardly wait to see their quarterback of the future.

In a part-time role as a complement to Chris Leak, Tebow played with a fiery passion. He bowled over defenders and bounced around the field, fists pumping and arms waving.

He ran for 469 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman, throwing only enough to take advantage of defenses stacked to stop him from running.

This season, the Gators became Tebow's team and at times he was a one-man offense.

He completed 68 percent of his attempts for 3,132 yards and 29 touchdowns and continued to run with reckless abandon, even while playing the second half of the season with a very sore shoulder.

Compensating for the Gators' lack of a reliable tailback, Tebow led Florida with 838 yards rushing and set a Southeastern Conference record with 22 touchdowns. With speed and a strong arm to go with his power and grit, Tebow is part throwback to the days of single-wing football and part 21st century prototype for the position.

Add winning the Heisman as a sophomore, and Tebow is truly one of a kind.

The Associated Press