Tim Tebow speaks on charity, the draft and his future at autograph signing in Palm Beach

Life has been a whirlwind for former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow ever since his team took down the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. From being the subject of a documentary to changing his mechanics and participating in both the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl and 2010 NFL Scouting Combine to making media appearances, hosting autograph signings and scheduling individual team workouts, Tebow has been on the move while trying to figure out where it is that he will actually move to on a more permanent basis in about a month’s time.

Saturday, Tebowmania took over Palm Beach County, as the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion participated in an autograph signing/charity event partially benefiting the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s meeting with Tim Tebow…after the break!
Continue Reading » Tim Tebow speaks on charity, the draft and his future at autograph signing in Palm Beach

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Tim Tebow denies being cursed out at combine

Early Wednesday, OGGOA posted the following news item regarding former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow being mocked for his desire to pray before taking the Wonderlic exam at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine.

» Pro Football Talk reports that Tebow, minutes before taking the Wonderlic exam at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, requested that his testing group bow their heads in prayer. In response, one player told him to “Shut the f—k up,” and others responded to that outburst by laughing. As PFT points out, this “illustrates the type of challenges that could be faced by the team that drafts Tebow.”

Mike Florio, the head honcho at PFT and author of the post, received a call from Tebow who flatly denied the story. “Not one single word of it is true,” Tebow said. “One of the number one things for me is being someone of character and when I say something people can take it to the bank. That story is absolutely not true.”

Tebow offered up names of other players who took the exam at the same time as him, in case Florio wanted to investigate it further to disprove his rebuttal. Florio, as of press time, has not contacted any of Tebow’s suggested players but instead spoke to his initial source who stood behind his initial claim.

“We’ll keep digging on this one,” Florio states. “We’re confident that our source didn’t make it up, but we were impressed by Tebow’s willingness to reach out and explain his position. Though I’m usually even more skeptical when someone tells me multiple times in a seven-minute conversation that he always tells the truth, when Tebow said it I believed it.”

Fact is, when it comes to credibility, Tebow has it and Florio does not.

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TEBOW BITS: Redskins, Patriots, Del Rio, mockery

» Washington Redskins take a closer look.
Last Saturday, a personnel group from the Redskins including head coach Mike Shanahan, general manager Bruce Allen and director of player personnel Scott Campbell met with former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow for a private workout. Though one should not expect the team to pick Tebow with its No. 4 overall selection, there are rumblings that he is the target should Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford already be selected or the team passes on drafting a quarterback in the first round.

» New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is impressed.
A team always known to be in the hunt for Tebow is the Patriots, and Belichick recently spoke about what Tebow has done and what he is capable of doing in the future. “Great career, great player,” Belichick said. “I think it’s obvious that within the last six weeks, that he’s worked on his mechanics and they’ve improved, which is a credit to him. He’s very coachable and he works very hard. I’m sure that whatever he feels he needs to do, he’ll work very hard at, whatever that is. Athletically, he tested very well at the combine, which you can see on the field.” New England is another team likely looking at Tebow with an early “value” pick, and it has enough of them that a trade-up is a possibility.

» Jacksonville Jaguars have him on their “wish list.”
“Our [general manager], Gene Smith, and I work hand-in-hand, discussing how we want to build this football team,” Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. “With Tim or anyone else on our board, we’re going to do the work and where they fall, that’s what we’re going to do. He’s certainly on the wish list because he exemplifies some of the characteristics you’re looking for. He’s a terrific leader and his intangibles are off the charts. Those types of things put him in the ‘absolute would have’ category.”

» NBC analyst Tony Dungy thinks he gets drafted early.
“Somebody, I think, is going to take him in the first round,” Dungy said. “I’d be surprised if by the end of the first round somebody hasn’t taken him. And I think it will pay off for them.” On Tebow’s mechanics, Dungy noted that he “heard the same things about Steve Young. I heard the same things about Vince Young.”

» He’s still not sure what he’s doing for the 2010 NFL Draft.
“I’ve got to figure out what will be more fun for me and best for my family,” Tebow told Peter King of Sports Illustrated. “But I have to say I liked what Joe Thomas did on the day of the draft a couple of years ago — he went fishing with his dad.” He is expected to make a final decision sometime this week.

» A fellow draftee mocked him before the Wonderlic.
Pro Football Talk reports that Tebow, minutes before taking the Wonderlic exam at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, requested that his testing group bow their heads in prayer. In response, one player told him to “Shut the f—k up,” and others responded to that outburst by laughing. As PFT points out, this “illustrates the type of challenges that could be faced by the team that drafts Tebow.”

» Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll thinks he’s a first rounder.
NFL.com reports that Carroll, who plans to visit with Tebow for a private workout, thinks he is good enough to be a first round pick. However, do not expect the Seahawks to use No. 6 or No. 14 overall on the Heisman Trophy winner. “I can’t believe a quarterback of his stature won’t be (taken in the first round),” Carroll said, adding that someone of his stature is too good to ignore.

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Pats, Browns, ‘Skins taking closer look at Tebow

Having now competed in the 2010 Senior Bowl, 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and his school’s Pro Day, the only things left on former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s plate before the 2010 NFL Draft are workouts and interviews with individual teams.

As of March 8, only the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks had arranged individual workouts with Tebow. However, the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins can now be added to that list, according to SportingNews.

The Browns, which had their president, general manager and head coach in Gainesville for Florida’s Pro Day, are expected to draft Gators cornerback Joe Haden with their No. 7 overall selection on April 22. The team is also in need of a quarterback of the future with 35-year-old Jake Delhomme as their only legitimate starting option and possesses an early second-round pick.

One of the first teams to work out Florida players after their Pro Day every year, the Patriots – especially head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft – hold Gators head coach Urban Meyer and his players in high regard. In fact, the team also took a close look at tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebacker Brandon Spikes on Thursday. (Spikes has reportedly also met with the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin.) Tebow would fit well in New England as a back-up who could sit comfortably behind Tom Brady for a few years.

The Redskins, which recently signed former Florida quarterback Rex Grossman to a free agent contract, are still looking for a starter with incumbent Jason Cambell seemingly always on the hot seat. Head coach Mike Shanahan is a former Gators offensive coordinator, and his son Kyle holds that same position under his father.

Photo Credit: Jimmy DeFlippo/Sports Illustrated

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Haden upset at his combine 40 but still confident

UPDATE: Early reports indicate Joe Haden ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at Florida’s Pro Day.

Former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden spoke with Dennis Dillon of SportingNews recently about a number of topics relating to his workout at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and what he plans to do Wednesday at Florida’s Pro Day. Below are some excerpts from the interview. To read the entire thing – click here.

On re-running the 40-yard dash: “I can’t wait. My back is finally 100 percent, so I can’t wait to go out there and perform. I’m just anxious and ready to do it. […] All I’ve been working on is my 40 starts. That’s basically it. I’ve probably run about a thousand 40s. […] I haven’t run that slow [4.57 seconds] since my freshman year off high school, so I was really disappointed. Down in Florida, all I ran were 4.34s or 4.33s. So I’m looking forward to running in the 4.33 range like I always have.”

On why he failed to run as fast at the combine: “I had a back strain.”

On being tops at his position: “I feel like I’m definitely the best corner [in the draft]. What you get from me is what nobody else can give you at corner – a strong, hard-nosed player who can lock down one side of the field and isn’t afraid to play man, isn’t afraid to blitz and isn’t afraid to tackle.”

On being recruited as a quarterback: “It would have been a whole lot different. I don’t think I would be in the situation I am now. I know God put me in the best situation for me, and that was to go to Florida and switch over to corner. If I had been a quarterback, I don’t think I’d have left school early and I don’t think I’d be projected to go in the first round of the draft.”

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Tim Tebow back in spotlight at Florida’s Pro Day

March 17 is a big day in Florida Gators athletics for three reasons: the basketball team is preparing for first-round action in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against the Brigham Young Cougars, the football team begins spring practice for the 2010 season and more than 15 former Gators football players who have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft will work out and perform in front of representatives of each NFL team during Pro Scout Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes, cornerback Joe Haden, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, center Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Aaron Hernandez are scheduled to be on hand for evaluation purposes, but quarterback Tim Tebow will be under more scrutiny than any of his former teammates. (Of course, Haden’s 40-yard dash times will be under close watch.)

As two of his National Championship titles and his Heisman Trophy sign hang on the stadium’s walls, Tebow will be on Florida Field proving to NFL coaches, scouts and personnel that his tweaked mechanics, throwing motion and release are improved enough where he can be considered for selection with a first- or second-round pick. Millions of dollars are on the line for Tebow, who was initially given a third-round grade.

Tebow’s stock has steadily improved over the last few weeks after an impressive showing at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine coupled with a dedication to “fixing” his release. He is now projected to go in the second round, though there are inklings that a few teams may be interested in trading up into the bottom of the first to pick perhaps the most accomplished quarterback in college football history.

Will it be the Buffalo Bills? New head coach Chan Gailey, a former Florida quarterback, loves developing young signal-callers. Could the Jacksonville Jaguars realize Tebow’s value, trading up to select the hometown star who can be the new face of a franchise that is in dire need of a face-lift? Perhaps an established powerhouse like the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts or Minnesota Vikings pulls the trigger for Tebow as a future starter?

Humans are emotional by nature, and emotions can be swayed by, literally, a flick of the wrist. Forget a score of 22 on the Wonderlic or his other “flaws,” Tebow has an opportunity to quiet his doubters and enliven his believers with his workout Wednesday – perhaps the most important of his career.

He has said on multiple occasions that he will do anything he is asked to do in order to prove to NFL teams that he can play quarterback, so expect coaches to throw some routes at him other than what is scripted by Tebow and his receivers.

Whether he impresses or fails to do so, Tebow’s next step will be private workouts with any interested teams. A few are already scheduled, but one can be sure that his appointment book will get quite full if teams become enamored with what Tebow has been able to do mechanics-wise in such a short period of time.

The Swamp will be open for Pro Day beginning at 8:30 a.m., though the on-field portion of the event will not start until 10 a.m. Fans will be allowed to enter via Gate 2.

As first reported by OGGOA, restrooms and concession stands will be open. Video cameras, food/drink containers, bottles, cans and a variety of other items are prohibited.

Photo Credits: Jimmy DeFlippo/Sports Illustrated, David Bergman/Sports Illustrated

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FOUR BITS: Wonderlic, NFL Draft, Parsons, Knight

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow scored a 22 on his Wonderlic exam at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, according to Edgar Thompson of the Palm Beach Post. By comparison, the average for a NFL QB is 24. Former Miami Dolphins QB and Hall of Famer Dan Marino posted a 13; Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a 48. OGGOA sees no need to expand further on this revelation.

2 » ESPN NFL Draft analysts and talking head Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay released their latest mock drafts Wednesday, and two former Gators continue to appear as potential first-round selections. McShay believes cornerback Joe Haden will be selected No. 7 overall by the Cleveland Browns, while Kiper counters that he will go No. 13 to the San Francisco 49ers. However, Kiper has center Maurkice Pouncey being taken at No. 24 by the Philadelphia Eagles, while McShay has him lasting until the end of the first round – going No. 31 to the Indianapolis Colts.

3 » Florida freshman guard Kenny Boynton and sophomore point guard Erving Walker were both recognized by the Southeastern Conference Tuesday for their contributions on the court this season. However, junior forward Chandler Parsons was snubbed by the conference – not that he cares. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me,” Parsons told The Florida Times-Union. “I haven’t even seen them, didn’t even know. As long as my team keeps winning and we get to where we want to, no individual accolades are needed for me. I didn’t get many in high school. I don’t expect any here.”

4 » Updating an item reported late Wednesday, five-star basketball recruit Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, FL) has decided to remove Miami (FL) from his top five and replace them with Syracuse. Knight is also considering Florida, Kentucky, Kansas and Connecticut and will likely decide in just over a month’s time.

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Joe Haden looks to improve as concerns remain

A stellar three-year college football career in the toughest conference in the country should be enough to convince NFL scouts, coaches and front office personnel that former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden will succeed as a professional. And it looked like it was enough, until Haden ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine about two weeks ago.

Ever since, Haden has been doing little but working on his 40 time, mostly because he is confident that he can do better – much better. His father, Joe Haden, Sr., told the Palm Beach Post Tuesday that Haden’s performance at the combine was not representative of his true speed. In fact, Haden, Sr. revealed that his son’s back tightened up as he has recently been dealing with lower back pain from working out and weight lifting.

“We had stopped doing some of the heavier lifting, but it just stiffened up on him, one of those things,” Haden, Sr. told the Post. “It’s just really affected him. I wish I had known, because I would have had him not even work out.”

Evaluators do not want to hear excuses. All they care about is improvement, and Haden plans to do just that at Florida’s Pro Day on March 17.

“The 40 is what time it is right now. That’s the big bang for the buck, that’s what the scouts want to see,” Haden, Sr. said. “He’s preparing very hard, very hard, to put it mildly. […] For Joe, all his life, (speed) has been his biggest strength. So for something to happen like that for him, I mean, Joe ran a 4.5 40 in the ninth grade. It was just something that was a blip.”

That blip happened twice in one day, injury or not. And Haden has fallen out of the top 10 on most team’s draft boards, according to various scouts and evaluators throughout the league. When a player falters at the combine or faces other adversity before the NFL Draft, it is usually his agent – not his father – stepping up to quiet those doubters and shout about the qualifications of his client.

That is where this gets even more interesting.

While quarterback Tim Tebow chose Jimmy Sexton, wide receiver Riley Cooper and center Maurkice Pouncey picked Joel Segal and defensive end Carlos Dunlap signed up with Todd France, Haden’s representation remains somewhat of a mystery.

An OGGOA source has confirmed that Haden is being represented by DSI Sports, specifically agent Malik Hafeez Shareef. Certified in Sept. 2007 by the NFL Players Association, Shareef does not have a client in the NFL and failed at placing his previous one (WR Brandon Whittington of Purdue) with a professional team last season. For the record, Whittington had 26 catches for 206 yards and one touchdown in two seasons with the Boilermakers and is not anywhere near the same caliber player as Haden, who will be drafted ahead of any other Florida player in 2010.

So who exactly is Shareef, and why did Haden choose him over more established agents who would have done their best to squash any concern over his “slow” 40 time? Is he simply a NFLPA-certified front man so Haden, Sr. can manage his son’s career?

Either way, an explanation is needed for the little-to-no damage control that was done on behalf of Haden after his sub-standard 40-yard dash became one of the biggest stories coming out of the combine.

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