Tebow’s future a hot topic at Manning’s presser

At a 3 p.m. press conference staged by the Denver Broncos to introduce Peyton Manning as the team’s new starting quarterback, former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow remained a subject of high interest and much discussion.

After being introduced by owner Pat Bowlen and executive vice president of football operations John Elway, Manning spoke about his decision and then answered a number of direct questions including two in particular about Tebow.

Manning first said that he did not have any conversations with the front office about the entirety of the quarterback position even though he knows “there are decisions to be made.” Then he added on his own:

Let me just say this: I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is and what kind of person he is. I’ve gotten to meet him personally one time. What an awesome year he had this year. If Tim Tebow is here next year, I’m going to be the best teammate I can be to him, and he and I are going to help this team win games. If other opportunities present themselves for him, I’m going to wish him the best. He’s going to be a great player wherever he is. Those are decisions that have to be made by other people. Those are not my decisions and those conversations never did come up with me. This is the place where I wanted to come and play football and to help this team win in whatever role or capacity that is.”

He also noted that he did not specifically have anything to say to Tebow’s fans that may prefer him instead and will obviously still support him going forward.

“I don’t know what to say to them. I think they’re fans of his for a great reason,” he said. “He’s a great player and a great guy. I think they can still be fans of his. I’m a fan of his, too. He’s a great player, great guy, great respect for what he accomplished last year. That was pretty impressive.”

Elway then took the podium and answered a number of specific questions regarding Tebow and his future (or lack thereof) with the franchise.

“We’re going through that process now,” Elway said in regards to Tebow’s future. “We’re going to look at that obviously. Coach [John] Fox and I called Tim [Monday] night and talked to him about it.

“This is a tough business. The toughest thing about this whole thing is Tim Tebow because of what I think about Tim Tebow. The things he did last year were tremendous. [He] helped turn this organization around from a 4-12 team to a playoff team and winning the division. And I’ve got a great deal of respect for him as a person and the things that he does.

“But that is no question the toughest thing about this business – the personal side. We just had to make a decision as an organization – myself, Coach Fox, the personnel department, the coaches. What would be the best opportunity for the Denver Broncos to be competitive for a world championship? And Peyton Manning was that so that’s why we chose to go that direction.”

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The Silver Lining: Broncos hoping to rid Denver of both Tim Tebow and Tebowmania

March 19 will forever be known as Victory Monday in the Denver Broncos’ front office as executive vice president of football operations John Elway and head coach John Fox got one step closer to reaching their offseason goal – ridding Mile High of quarterback Tim Tebow and perhaps more importantly “Tebowmania.”

Despite comments to the contrary in the offseason, it is a badly kept secret that Elway and Fox do not believe Tebow could become a viable long-term starting quarterback in the NFL. As if Elway’s stone-faced expressions every time Tebow threw or ran for a game-winning touchdown during the 2011 season were not proof enough.

But with a fan base in love with their star signal caller and the team finding unexpected levels of success behind the former Heisman Trophy winner, Denver only had one move to make if they wanted to get Tebow out of dodge.

The Broncos had to sign the one man, the one quarterback that would make Denver fans cast Tebow aside and unite behind an organizational decision to get rid of the guy who led their team to their first playoff victory since 2005-06.

That man is Peyton Manning and Elway did everything he could to get him to supplant Tebow including offering him what is expected to be a five-year contract worth approximately $95 million if all incentives are reached.

(No one can or should blame Elway for making a play for Manning – any good front office executive would have. At this point in his career, Manning is the far better quarterback and can bring the team to a higher level of success sooner than Tebow could.)

Even if Elway did not secure Manning this offseason, the plan was already in place to spend a high draft pick on a quarterback. Reports out of Colorado had Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden extremely high on Elway’s radar.

It was not just that Elway and Fox do not believe in Tebow and his future in the league. The Broncos as an organization have already bled every dollar they could out of the Tebowmania phenomenon.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: Broncos hoping to rid Denver of both Tim Tebow and Tebowmania

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Manning chooses Denver, Tebow on the way out?

The chase for Peyton Manning lasted two weeks and in the end it was the Denver Broncos that wound up at the front of the line as Manning decided Monday to finish his career in Mile High. With a new quarterback headed to town, the question in league circles now becomes: What becomes of former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow’s future with the team?

Released by the Indianapolis Colts on March 7, Manning met with representatives from five teams over the ensuing week. Arizona, Miami, San Francisco and Tennessee all had an opportunity to land the Super Bowl XLI MVP and 11-time Pro Bowler but in the end it was the Broncos that won the sweepstakes.

Now the focus of the national media and football fans everywhere turns to Tebow and where he will play football in 2012 and beyond.

Denver picked Kyle Orton to start the first five games of the 2011 season and began with a paltry 1-4 record. Tebow was installed as the Broncos’ starter against Miami and rallied the team to win seven of their next eight games including three in overtime and six in which Denver was either tied or losing at some point in the fourth quarter.

He also helped the Broncos advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2005 where he fueled a 29-23 overtime victory of Pittsburgh in the wild card round. Tebow threw for 316 yards with two touchdowns, ran for 50 yards and another score, and posted a quarterback rating of 125.6 in the contest. He also completed a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas just seconds into overtime to send the Mile High faithful into a frenzy.

With the offseason in full swing, Denver executive vice president of football operations John Elway and head coach John Fox both spoke kindly of Tebow though neither showed a high level of enthusiasm in his future.

“Hopefully, he can be the franchise guy for a long time, but those are things we don’t know at this time,” Elway said on Feb. 24. “He made tremendous strides last year, and that’s without an offseason. He’s our starter going into training camp, and we have great expectations for him.”

The Broncos were always planning to bring two more quarterbacks in to compete with Tebow even has he held the starting job, but signing Manning obviously changes that dynamic. Tebow will no longer be the “starter going into training camp” and now may not even be with the team next season.

Since the Manning derby began, multiple reports have stated that Elway and Fox intended to trade or release Tebow should they land their horse. Others noted that Elway saw bringing in Manning as the only way to escape “Tebowmania” and give the team an opportunity to move on from a player they invested from a previous regime and were obviously not comfortable with from jump street.

In addition to his presence with the club, Manning expected to sign a three- or four-year deal and finish his career in Denver. Tebow, finding success after being thrust into the starting role to conclude each of the last two seasons, undoubtedly believes he is capable of being a starting NFL signal caller.

Though he probably would have been content to sit and learn the ropes from a player of Manning’s caliber in the short-term, Tebow’s contract (set to expire after the 2014 season) makes that situation unlikely. He will not want to languish on the bench behind Manning only to see his contract run out and the Broncos fail to re-sign him to be the heir-apparent to his replacement.

And Denver’s front office, which never fully bought into Tebow’s ability to be a starting NFL quarterback despite his success on the field in 2011, will likely prefer to draft someone better suited to their philosophy and allow him to develop behind Manning.

All eyes now remain in Colorado but shift from Manning to Tebow and his agent Jimmy Sexton. Unless there is a miracle in Mile High or at least a change of heart by Broncos management including a peace offering to Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winner will likely be looking for a new place to call home sooner than later.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

Growing up watching his father play professional football, Ran Carthon found a passion for the game and knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s profession but blaze his own path to glory. So when his family moved from Osceola, AR to Key West, FL and he began playing high school football, Carthon hoped to be recognized for his efforts on the field rather than his father’s famous last name.

He received that recognition from the Florida Gators and committed to wear orange and blue throughout his college career. After working hard to earn time on the field and being given a second chance to shine under head coach Ron Zook, Carthon led Florida in rushing in 2003 with 595 yards and six touchdowns (he also caught 21 balls for 185 yards and another score).

He played in 48 games with 11 starts over his career, running for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scoring 12 total touchdowns.

Now a professional scout with the Atlanta Falcons, “The Mayor” (a nickname he was given in college for knowing everyone in Gainesville, FL) is not only still involved in football but also constantly working on ways to give back to the community.

Carthon sat down with OGGOA last week for a 45-minute exclusive interview that touches on his life growing up, advice for recent Gators commits, time at Florida, playing in the NFL and the newest charitable venture he is involved in, the Florida Players Network.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What was it like playing high school football in Key West? Did you find it was hard to get recognized?
RAN CARTHON: “Living in Key West was awesome and amazing; we had a lot of community support. Kind of like most football stories you hear, it was a small town community that really rallies around their high school sports. In terms of being recognized, honestly it was something we never thought about. We played a lot of Miami schools – and those schools had talented players – so we knew if we wanted to get on scholarship that we had to dominate those guys in order to get our recognition.”

AS: Did you feel any added pressure either living your life as the son of a well-known NFL player (New York Giants and Super Bowl-winning fullback Maurice Carthon)?
RC: “For me it was always like I wanted to create my own identity. Earlier on I fought against everything you read about – ‘son of former Giants player’ – and I wanted to establish myself and let people know that I can play this game. That was the initial thing. As I got older, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. My dad is who he is and my talents would be recognized because of him because of the gene pool. After a few years, I gave up on that fight.”

AS: Florida has Bryan Cox, Jr. committed for 2012 and just earned a verbal pledge from Kelvin Taylor. Do you have any advice for those guys on how to live and play in the “shadow” of their respective fathers?
RC: “I would just say be who you are. The player that you are has gotten you to this point, gotten you recognized by elite schools. I’ve been following Kelvin since his eighth grade year as a senior at Glades Day. I’m very familiar with him and that’s just more so because of how much of a fan I was of Fred [Taylor]. Fred and Terry Jackson were probably two of the main reasons why I selected to go to UF. I thought under [Steve] Spurrier they were allowed to show everything they could do as backs. I had offers from schools that were predominately running the ball, but I felt like I was more versatile than that. For those guys – Bryan Cox, Jr. and Kelvin Taylor – those guys need to embrace who their father is but at the same time continue to do what got them to where they are.”

Read the rest of our interview with Ran Carthon…after the break!
Continue Reading » Ran Carthon: “I never run away from competition.”

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QB commit Jeff Driskel shines at Elite 11 camp

What a week it has been for Florida Gators five-star quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL). Named Most Valuable Player of the Elite 11 QB Camp, Driskel dominated the proceedings from start-to-finish, showing off a strong arm, impressive accuracy, enviable mechanics and college-level decision-making.

Tom Luginbill, ESPN’s recruiting director, said that Driskel resembles Washington QB Jake Locker. ESPN’s Corey Long added, “Driskel is a massive young man at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, his release is on point and his passes have tremendous heat on them.”

He even drew comparisons to some NFL legends – including Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning – as he shredded the competition over the course of four days.

“You always have to try to be at your best and you have to want to be the best and I came out here to play football,” Driskel told Rivals. “I wasn’t here to go to Disneyland even though that ended up being fun. You have to have that focused attitude and I had it throughout the week.”

If you think Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow and Gators incoming starter redshirt junior John Brantley were highly praised coming out of high school, Driskel’s hype is already reaching that level. He makes all of the required throws and showed during 7-on-7 drills that he can read the field with the best of them.

Even though Driskel is a pro-style quarterback, he is deceptively athletic and runs a 4.52 40-yard-dash. He won’t carry the ball much, but the threat of his speed in head coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense should keep defenses honest if he is able to prove that he can use it.

Driskel is considered the top-rated QB of the 2011 recruiting class by both ESPNU and Rivals. Nationally, he is ranked No. 13 overall by the former and No. 31 by the latter.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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SIX BITS: McCray in Super Bowl, weekend wrap-up

1 » The 2009 NFL Playoffs may have begun with seven but only one former Florida Gators player has made it to Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. That man is New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray, who did not have a dominating regular season but has had quite an impact on his team’s first two playoff games. Making it a point to hit both Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre hard, McCray knocked each out of the game for a short period of time. Now he will turn his focus on NFL MVP and Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. Keep an eye on No. 93 throughout the game on Sunday.

2 » All of the pre-2010 NFL Draft attention has been focused on former Gators QB Tim Tebow (wide receiver Riley Cooper has received a little, too), but linebacker Brandon Spikes is preparing for the biggest job interview of his career, too. Staying quiet while training and working out after a sub-par (for him) season, Spikes is doing whatever he can to impress scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine from Feb. 24 to March 2. “I’m anxious to get started,” Spikes told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “Hopefully, I can go to the league and grab it by the neck.” Speaking about the future at Florida, Spikes was optimistic. “Those younger players know what we started and the legacy we have here. They just want to keep it going. I say it all the time to my younger group, the linebacker corps, those guys are talented. The sky’s the limit for those guys. If they continue to work and buy into the program, they’ll have the same success.”

Read how Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Frankie Hammond fared in track and field action and how gymnastics and tennis performed this weekend after the jump!
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TWO BITS: Harvin’s migraines, Tebow’s workouts

1 » Could former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin be sitting out the most important game of his young NFL career? If his sudden migraine flare-up continues, he just might. Harvin missed Minnesota Vikings practice on Thursday [and Friday] for the first time since returning from the Mayo Clinic in December. He had been headache-free for more than a month, but head coach Brad Childress indicated that the only thing that can cure Harvin is time. “I think it’s just a matter of trying to slow the onsets,” Childress said. “For a while he had them pretty often. We expect him to be OK.” Harvin has 60 receptions on the season, second on the team to Sidney Rice, and has become one of quarterback Brett Favre’s favorite targets on third down.

2 » Preparing for the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl and a future in the NFL, former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been working out in Franklin, TN, since last week at D1 Sports Training. Co-owned by Indianapolis Colts star QB Peyton Manning, D1 “specializes in making athletes faster, stronger, more agile and explosive while also building character,” according to the company’s mission statement. Tebow is working closely with former Georgia Bulldogs All-American QB Zeke Bratkowski, a 40-year playing and coaching veteran. “When they see him in person, how he moves and throws, his work ethic at the Senior Bowl, and his passion for the game, I think that is what is going to move him up on the draft,” said Kurt Hester, director of training for D1. Check out the full story by Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

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