Tebow's haul of hardware is special

The Gator QB says it's meaningful to win awards associated with Danny Wuerffel.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
Published December 7, 2007

LAKE BUENA VISTA - In his first season as the Gators' starting quarterback, Tim Tebow set school and NCAA records, and on Thursday night he began reaping the rewards.

Tebow, 20, won the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell awards, given to the nation's best quarterback and the best all-around player, respectively. He accepted them during a live ESPN telecast from the Walt Disney World Resort.

He is the second sophomore to win the O'Brien award and the first Gator to win the Maxwell since Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel in 1996. Tebow won the O'Brien over Missouri junior Chase Daniel and Oregon senior Dennis Dixon.

"I'm excited," Tebow said. "What can you say? It's just a privilege and an honor. There are so many people that I wanted to give credit to, and so many that influenced my life and helped me get here. To win it Maxwell over (Darren) McFadden and Dixon, two great players, it's a huge honor and something I'm very thankful for."

Winning both may - or may not - be a good sign for Tebow, who is one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Since 1937 when the first Maxwell was awarded, 34 winners added the Heisman. The O'Brien has been given since 1981 and 11 of the 14 quarterbacks also won the Heisman.

But since 1999 when Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne won both, no Maxwell winner has taken home the Heisman.

Tebow said he's not going to worry about Saturday's Heisman presentation in New York: "I just want to enjoy the ride."

McFadden, the Arkansas senior, was also a multiple-award winner, walking away with the Doak Walker Award for the best running back and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.

McFadden, widely considered to be neck-and-neck with Tebow for the Heisman, is a two-time Doak Walker winner.

"It means a whole lot to me," said McFadden, who this week was named the SEC offensive player of the year by the league coaches. "It's like a repeat, but I think if you did this 100 times, you couldn't get used to it. It means a whole lot to you to get a prestigious award like this."

During his first speech, Tebow made a point to thank God and his quarterback coach, Dan Mullen. In his second, he remembered to thank his teammates and coach Urban Meyer.

"This is an award for the best quarterback in the country and he's my quarterback coach," Tebow said after winning the O'Brien. "I'm just thankful for him and everything that he's done for me."

Mullen said he's the one who's thankful: "You're so proud of him, everything he's done, the work he's put in to become the player that he has. It's just a great honor for me to be able to work with him every single day. I couldn't be more proud of anybody in the world and all the things he's accomplished so far this year."

Tebow said taking home the awards won by Wuerffel, a role model, was "huge."

"Danny means a lot to me and I talked to him before these awards," he said. "He gave me a lot of advice and he handled it really well, so I'm going to try to handle it like he did."

BRENNAN ON TEBOW: Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan said he "loved" coach June Jones' comments that Tebow is a "system quarterback." "Coach Jones ...doesn't care what people think," Brennan said. Asked who is the best player, he said, "I'm going to have to take the Fifth." He said he doesn't want to stir things up for Tyler Graunke, who faces UF in next season's opener.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.