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February 9, 2009

Loeffler: Tebow focused on present, not future

Adam Gorney
Rivals.com College Football
Assistant Editor
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Scot Loeffler calls Tim Tebow one of the best players in college football history. Florida's new quarterbacks coach said Tebow was unbelievable, a rock star and that it was an honor to coach him.

But does Tebow have the tools to make it in the NFL?

"You're damn right he'll be an NFL quarterback," Loeffler said. "He's got it. Not too many people across the country have it. … As a quarterback you're constantly trying to improve on technique, improve in knowledge and he'll do that. This guy is a workaholic.

"He's got it and there's no question in my mind he'll be an NFL player, but we have to first take care of Florida. That NFL experience that he'll have, that will come. But the great players worry about today. That's what Tim Tebow will do. He's going to worry about winning another national championship for the University of Florida."

No one at Florida has known Tebow longer than Loeffler, who was in charge of Tebow's recruitment while coaching at Michigan. The two have had a relationship since Tebow was 15 years old and Loeffler still has a penchant for calling him Timmy - a moniker that has faded as Tebow has matured.

Already one of the most decorated players in college football history, Tebow decided to return to Florida for his senior season - even with a new position coach and offensive coordinator. Offensive line coach Steve Addazio was promoted to coordinator.

Tebow has two national championships and a Heisman Trophy under his belt - the first sophomore to ever win the award - and the Gators should probably be No. 1 in the preseason rankings. Tebow will have a shot at wining another Heisman as well, but there is still a lot of work to get done.

"Tim Tebow is a great player," said Loeffler, who coached last season with the Detroit Lions. "He's probably one of the best players in college football history. The wonderful thing about the quarterback position anywhere from Chad Henne to Tom Brady, Brian Griese, all the guys I've been a part of, you've never arrived at the quarterback position.

"I don't care if you've won five Super Bowls, if you've won two Heismans, if you've won four national championships, there is always something at the position you can work at."

Tebow is no different. Some question his arm strength or how much loft he puts under deep passes. Can he throw the ball on a rope like NFL quarterbacks? How will he adjust to going under center? Despite his unbelievable success, there are still questions about his pro potential.

Rivals.com rated Tebow as a five-star recruit and the best dual-threat quarterback in the 2006 class. The only quarterbacks rated higher were Matthew Stafford, arguably the top quarterback available in this year's NFL draft, and Mitch Mustain.

"I knew Timmy Tebow when he was a sophomore in high school and I recruited him at the University of Michigan," Loeffler said. "From day one he had it and he'll always have it, so there's not one thing that surprised me about him besides how he handles the off-the-field issues. ... he has a miraculous way of dealing with the public and he is awesome in every sense of the word.

"He fits the same mold in terms of having it. ... It's hard to describe what it is but they've got it. It's going to be absolutely a privilege and one of the best phases of my life to work with this guy."

Florida's offense might be difficult to grasp for some assistant coaches, but Loeffler said he has studied it for years and followed the success of coach Urban Meyer, from his days at Bowling Green, then at Utah and now at Florida.

Quarterbacks have raved about Loeffler's short stint with the Gators. Tebow was involved with picking the next quarterbacks coach after Dan Mullen left to take over at Mississippi State. Loeffler seemed like a perfect fit because of their prior relationship and his time in the NFL.

Florida signee Jordan Reed has already said good things about his new position coach and so has 2010 commit Trey Burton, who first met Loeffler during Florida's Junior Day two weekends ago. The two apparently hit it off.

When Tebow decided Michigan was not going to be the best fit for him and he and Loeffler parted on the recruiting trail, Loeffler told him that one day they would cross paths again. No one believed it would be only a few years later as Tebow looks to win three national titles in four years.

"It's an absolute privilege to be a part of this program but also to coach Timmy," Loeffler said. "I've watched Timmy Tebow since he was 15, watching him progress from a high school kid to a college player. His upside is going to get better. He'll make himself better. He's a rock star in every sense of the word. I'm just honored to coach him."

Meyer gave Loeffler just one bit of advice.

"Coach Meyer said, 'Just don't screw him up,' " Loeffler said. "So we'll try not to screw him up, that's for sure."

Adam Gorney is a senior writer for GatorBait.net. He is a Penn State graduate and former writer for Newsday. This will be his sixth season covering major college football professionally.
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