Florida Gators celebrate Tim Tebow with Ring of Honor induction, 2008 national title team recognized

By Adam Silverstein
October 6, 2018
Florida Gators celebrate Tim Tebow with Ring of Honor induction, 2008 national title team recognized

For just the sixth time in the history of the Florida Gators football program, a man will be inducted into the Ring of Honor that surrounds Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. In this case, it will be the greatest player in program history who takes his spot among a short group of peers as two-time national champion Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow steps into the circle on Saturday afternoon.

Tebow’s stellar career at Florida was unmatched at the time of his graduation. After playing a significant role in helping the Gators winning the 2006 national title as a true freshman, Tebow set SEC single-season records for rushing touchdowns (23) and total touchdowns (55) in 2007 on his way to becoming the first player in history to win the Heisman as a true sophomore. Tebow did not need to eclipse those numbers in 2008 as he took a step back and managed one of the most effective offenses in college football history while leading Florida to its second national title in three seasons.

Over his four-year UF career, Tebow completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 9,285 yards with 88 passing touchdowns to just 16 interceptions, all while carrying the ball 692 times for 2,947 yards with 57 touchdowns on the ground. In addition to scoring 145 total touchdowns, going 3-1 in bowl games and posting an 11-1 record against rivals Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee, Tebow was a three-time Heisman finalist who won nearly every award available to him. He went 26-2 in his final two years as a starter (35-6 overall as a starter, 48-7 combined in his four years) and also made a lasting impact in Gators history with the historic “Promise” speech following UF’s lone loss to Ole Miss in 2008 on its way to a national title season.

Tebow, who will be inducted between the first and second quarter of Saturday’s game against LSU and see his name erected in the north endzone of The Swamp, joins linebacker Wilber Marshall, running back Emmitt Smith, quarterback Steve Spurrier, quarterback Danny Wuerffel and defensive end Jack Youngblood as the sixth member of the Ring of Honor. He is the first to be inducted since 2007, the second year of its existence after the Ring of Honor debuted in 2006.

The Ring of Honor is particularly restrictive, requiring former players and coaches to be removed from competition at Florida for five seasons, remain in good standing with the school and meet at least one of seven tough criteria. Players must either be a Heisman winner (Spurrier, Tebow, Wuerffel), former All-Americans inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Smith, Youngblood), former All-Americans who are NFL career category leaders (Smith), college football career category leaders (Tebow) or players with two or more consensus All-American honors who were also named national player of the year (Marshall, Tebow). Coaches must win at least one national championship (Spurrier) or at least three SEC championships (Spurrier).

The only other man who fits the aforementioned criteria is Urban Meyer, the current head coach at Ohio State. It is expected that Meyer will be inducted after he retires or leaves college football as, like Tebow, his five-year clock has been up for a few years already.

Tebow will be in town with SEC Network‘s pregame show, “SEC Nation,” but he will not be the only former Florida player taking part in festivities on Saturday. Nearly the entire 2008 national championship team — except Meyer and those still playing and coaching elsewhere — will be in Gainesville, Florida, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the title win. Festivities will take place at halftime.

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