Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tebow's Time Has Arrived; the Sophomore-to-Be Runs His First Spring Practice as Florida's No. 1 Quarterback

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tebow's Time Has Arrived; the Sophomore-to-Be Runs His First Spring Practice as Florida's No. 1 Quarterback

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN FISHER

GAINESVILLE -- Just how popular Tim Tebow is became clear before the quarterback even started his first practice as Florida's new leader.

On Wednesday, Tebow walked to practice with reserve kicker Andrew Fritze, who later noticed that his partner was missing. Tebow then noticed that Fritze was far ahead and asked why he didn't wait for him.

"Hey, I'm not big time," Fritze yelled to Tebow. "I don't have to sign like 50 autographs before practice."

It was nothing new for Tebow. Just hours after winning the national championship, Gators coach Urban Meyer declared that this was now the former Nease High School standout's team.

That officially began Wednesday with Tebow's first spring practice as the Gators' leading quarterback.

However, Tebow isn't taking it for granted.

"It's a big honor, but you have to come out here and prove it every day," the sophomore-to-be said.

Tebow's role has largely changed. Last season, he backed up senior Chris Leak and played mostly in short-yardage situations. This year, Tebow is in charge of the offense.

But as far as leadership goes, Meyer said Tebow looks like the same player he remembers from last season.

"He's never been shy," Meyer said. "It was Chris Leak's team, but Tebow was right there with him. I didn't notice a big difference, other than Chris Leak wasn't out here. Tebow doesn't back down from anybody."

But one teammate believes Tebow looked different.

"He's a lot more confident out here," senior wide receiver Andre Caldwell said. "He feels this is his team, and he's looked great out there. I know he's going to strive for excellence; that's just the type of person he is."

Just as Leak mentored him last year, Tebow worked with two of his potential backups Wednesday. Cameron Newton, a freshman from Atlanta, and Bryan Waggener, a junior- college transfer, both practiced with the Gators for the first time. …

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