In April when I released an absurdly early look at the 2007 Heisman race without mentioning Tim Tebow, I received an e-mail from Siva in Arcadia, Fla., asking, "Ever heard of Tim Tebow?" When I updated the list in August, again sans Tebow, I received an e-mail from Eric in St. Petersburg, Fla., who wrote, "Thank you soooooo much for not putting Tebow on your list. Even mentioning him in the same breath as the Heisman is retarded." Well, Eric, it seems as if Siva was right all along. But who in the world, other than Siva, could have predicted Florida's sophomore quarterback would have a season unlike any in college football history?
With the Heisman to be awarded on Saturday night, the choice here is Tebow, Tebow, Tebow. And my guess, from all these straw polls I've seen, is I'm not the only one who thinks Tebow will take home the stiff-arm statuette.
Recently I spoke with Tebow about everything from the team he would like to play next season, to possibility of entering the NFL Draft after his junior year to whether he would ever date a (gasp!) Florida State girl.
SI.com: So how's the broken right hand?
Tebow: The hand is in a cast and hopefully getting better and will be ready to go soon.
SI.com: How did you break it?
Tebow: I don't know. I think trying to stiff-arm somebody on the touchdown run [on the first drive of the third quarter against Florida State] and then just hit him with it somehow. I'm not actually sure.
SI.com: But you played through it. If the Gators had qualified for the SEC championship game, would you have played?
Tebow: Oh, yes sir. It's my right [non-throwing] hand. And it's only a broken hand. That's why God gave you two. We could definitely find a way to play.
SI.com: So the Heisman ballot asks voters to select the "most outstanding" college football player in the country in 2007. Everyone has their own definition of most outstanding. But what's your definition?
Tebow: That's a good question. I haven't thought much about the definition of that. But I think it would have to be about being consistent through a whole year and being able to go into every game and be an outstanding player in every game. Someone that teams will have to key on, try to stop. Someone who has the ability to change the game.
SI.com: What would winning the award mean to you?
Tebow: It would mean a lot to me. I've been watching the Heisman ceremony as long as I can remember. I was a big Danny Wuerffel fan, so watching him win it was really special. It was a dream of mine to even get a chance to go [to New York]. It would be a huge honor because I think I kind of have a little bit of a grasp of how big an award it is, what it means, so it would just be a huge honor for me, something I'll be very thankful for and something I'll cherish forever.
SI.com: You have such a rock star status on campus and in Gainesville. What are some of the drawbacks of that?
Tebow: With everything, there are pros and cons. You enjoy the hype and the recognition you get. It's an honor that people want to talk to you and get your autograph and take pictures. It's great, and I feel privileged to do that and sign for everybody. But sometimes it is nice when you can just go out to dinner with your family and spend time with them. You never really get to see them and when you are with them and you go out to eat or something, you're signing a lot of the time. But you just have to be thankful for it, and something that helps me handle it is knowing that I was a kid once and I looked up to Danny Wuerffel, and when he signed an autograph for me, it made me feel good. That helps me with handling all that and gives you an appreciation for it. Even though it's going to take more of your time and you might not get to do what you want to do, you're helping other people, and that's what it's all about. That really keeps me going and helps me not get frustrated with that stuff.
SI.com: Have you ever been burned by your celebrity?
Tebow: That happens quite frequently. There are a lot of people who act like they're me on Facebook and try to talk to people. I've had people tell me they were going on dates with me because of Facebook, and I don't even have a Facebook account. People come up to me and say, "Hey, thanks for having me as a friend on Facebook." I don't even have Facebook. And you do have the different people that sometimes will follow you from class to class. Some are weird. I wouldn't say they're stalkers, but they're definitely a little over-interested. You'll just take a picture just walking to class. Then they'll put it on Facebook or do whatever with it and just say whatever they want with it. So that's why you try to be really careful about what kind of pictures you're taking. Could this be seen as a bad picture? It really makes you be careful about the situations you put yourself in.
SI.com: So that's not your profile on Facebook with 5,000 or so friends?
Tebow: It's not, and that's what everyone says. "Man, it has to be yours." A lot of people are friends with this person, whoever it is.
SI.com: How bad was the bruised right shoulder?
Tebow: It was pretty banged up. With the trainers' help, you just try to get it back as good as possible and finish out the year with it.
SI.com: What did you have to do to cope with it?
Tebow: Before the games I would take a shot [an anti-inflammatory and pain-killer] in my shoulder. All week the main thing was rehabbing it. Doing everything we could do to get it ready. It was a lot of work. I spent a lot of time in the training room.
SI.com: In the last couple weeks it looked like you were back to your running self. What happened that allowed you to run like you had at the beginning of the season?
Tebow: For one, the shoulder was getting better. And there were big games. That's everything for us. We have to go out there and do whatever we can to win. If it's run the ball 25, 27 times, then go do it.
SI.com: Some fun questions now. How many pairs of jorts (jean shorts) do you own?
TT: (Laughs) I don't have a pair of jean shorts. I did when I was younger. I'm not going to lie. That picture [circulating on the Internet of Tebow wearing jorts] is fake. I think people just Photoshopped that in. I haven't worn jean shorts in awhile.
SI.com: What is your one guilty pleasure?
Tebow: I eat a lot of healthy foods. I try to at least. But I give in to ice cream. I'm not a dessert guy, but ice cream gets me nine times out of 10.
SI.com: How did LSU fans get your cell number?
Tebow: I don't know how it got out. But once a few people got it, it was everywhere. And I heard later the whole week that in the LSU bars they were announcing my number.
SI.com: Who's cell phone number do you have?
Tebow:Kenny Chesney. I'm friends with several NFL players, Shaun Alexander and some different people like that. He's a close friend of mine.
SI.com: What celebrity would you want to meet?
Tebow: I'd have to say Mel Gibson because Braveheart is my favorite movie, and The Patriot is my second-favorite.
SI.com: Do you still bail hay and fix fences on your parents' property?
Tebow: Oh yeah. When I went home for our bye week. Between a few of the games, me and my dad and brothers went out and mended a little fence and hung out. Good father-and-son time
SI.com: Do you still read the Bible every day?
SI.com: Is it true that former Alabama coach Mike Shula really spent 12 hours at your home during his recruiting visit?
Tebow: Yes it is.
SI.com: What did you two do for 12 hours?
Tebow: (Laughs) Had three meals. Watched film. Hung out. Spent time with him. Talked a lot.
SI.com: How close were you to signing with Alabama?
Tebow: It was very close. It went all the way down to the end. I like coach Shula a lot. He's a great guy. He was really one of the main reasons I was considering Alabama so much. I also loved the environment there, the southern hospitality, how much they love football. Some people say they love it too much. I'm one of those people who loves football. I'm very passionate about it. So I felt like I fit in there.
SI.com: In the Tennessee game, CBS cameras caught you and Tony Joiner...
Tebow: (Laughs) I already know what you're going to ask.
SI.com:Sharing an intimate moment, let's say. How close are you and Joiner?
Tebow: (Laughs) Well, we're roommates, and we're really good friends. But we're not close like some people try to joke at.
SI.com: Was it really a kiss?
Tebow: I don't know. I think it was a little inconclusive. It might have been a little bump or he might have tripped or something. You got to understand Tony's personality. He's an affectionate guy. What can you say?
SI.com: What do you want for Christmas?
Tebow: You know, I've never been someone to be picky or want anything. The best thing about Christmas for me is having all my siblings come home and spend time and hang out with them. That's the big thing for me for Christmas. Oh, my mom has to cook ice cream Rice Krispie Treat pie when I go home. That's what I want for Christmas.
SI.com: That sounds really good.
Tebow: It's really good. I'll bring you a piece up in New York.
SI.com: (Laughs) OK. Thanks. What's getting the most play in your iPod right now?
Tebow: Oh, that's a good question. I don't get asked that question. Let me see. Hmm. I'm trying to think. I like George Strait. He gets played on there a lot. Kenny [Chesney] gets played on there a lot. I'm a big country fan, so a lot of country stuff. Chris Tomlin gets played on there a lot. No. 1, though? You know what? I'd have to go with Don't Blink by Kenny Chesney.
SI.com: Is there a song that you work out to?
Tebow: It's not one song. It's the Rocky IV soundtrack. They play it in our weight room all the time. It's a classic. It's awesome.
SI.com: When you play a college football video game, are you always Florida?
Tebow: No. I like playing with teams with athletic quarterbacks, so I can try to move around and make some plays back there, try to find someone with a little bit of speed or something.
SI.com: And I guess video game companies underestimated your athletic ability entering this season. So who would that be, Oregon? West Virginia?
Tebow: I would play with both of those teams. I haven't played the new game that much. I played more last year and the year before that. Ohio State was really good last year with Troy Smith. I would play with them every now and then.
SI.com: If you could put a game on the Gators' schedule next year, who would you like to see Florida play?
Tebow: I think it would be really fun to play USC. That would be awesome. No. 1, I think Pete Carroll is a very good coach. I think they have great players. I really respect their team. I think they're a great team. They're one of the best teams in college football. They might not be up there for a national championship, but they're a really good team. I think it would be an honor to play them.
SI.com: OK, this is the last of the fun questions. Earlier you said you didn't have a girlfriend, correct?
Tebow: No girlfriend.
SI.com: OK then, would you ever date a Florida State girl?
Tebow: (Laughs) Oooh. That's like a trick question right there. Let's try to find a politically correct way to answer that. You know what? I don't know. If she was a really sweet girl, and I was attracted to her a lot. And she was a very nice girl, she would have a chance. (Laughs)
SI.com: Back to some more serious stuff. I spoke with some NFL scouts who believe your future might be at fullback or H-back. What do you think your NFL position is?
Tebow: Well, hopefully quarterback. My dream is to play quarterback. That's what I love doing. That's where my heart is. I love doing it.
SI.com: Of course it's still early, but would you be OK with a fullback or H-back role?
Tebow: I would try to find a way to play quarterback, try to make that happen. That would be what I wanted to do. But if I couldn't, of course I would take that opportunity and try to do that.
SI.com: Has any reporter asked you about entering the NFL Draft after the 2008 season?
Tebow: Yeah, I've been asked that a few times.
SI.com: OK, I feel better then asking it again, being as absurdly early as it is.
Tebow: I want to get my education and play for the Gators, and I'm not even thinking about that right now.
SI.com: Congratulations on a great season, Tim. Thanks for taking the time out for the Q&A.
Tebow: Yes sir. Thanks very much. Thanks for having me.