Few players have had their football identities tied to Urban Meyer as much as former Florida Gators and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. As a result, few people have a closer insight into the thinking and coaching skill set of the new Jacksonville Jaguars head coach.
Tebow hasn't been shy about advocating for Meyer since the conclusion of Tebow's own collegiate career, especially in the months since Meyer took over the Jaguars.
That support hasn't let up in any way as Meyer's first offseason in the NFL has progressed. The support began when Tebow was first recruited by Meyer out of high school as a member of the 2006 recruiting class and continued this week with Tebow singing his former coach's praises in an appearance on Doug Flutie’s SiriusXM podcast Flutie Flakescast.
"When you're getting recruited, there's a lot of people that say what they think you want to hear. And he didn't do that. And I liked that about him. He said things he believed," Tebow told Flutie.
Complete and total genuineness seems like a simple trait from a coach and leader of men, but it is an important one that Tebow believes will be essential to Meyer's translation to the NFL. Meyer doesn't let up on his players or assistants and is always open to telling them how he sees things, which is one of the biggest reasons Tebow believes in his former head coach as the leader of the Jaguars.
There are countless differences between the NFL and the college games that Meyer will have to adjust to. One could likely make the argument that Meyer has already been through a crash course in recent months.
But there are also similarities that Tebow thinks are prevalent enough that they could be the driving force behind Meyer's potential success in Jacksonville. His ability to get players to buy in, just like he got Tebow to buy in 15 years ago, is one of those qualities.
"There would be a lot of people that would say, ‘Hey, if you come here, we think you'll be a great player, and we think that you could have a chance at winning a championship and possibly a Heisman.’ But when Urban would look at you he would say, ‘You come here and you play for me, and I believe if we follow this plan to win, we're going to win championships and you might even win a Heisman.’ And why I believed it is because he believed it, it wasn't lip service," Tebow said.
"It was actually something that would come from his heart, you know? And that's one of the things that I think translates for Urban and why I think he'll do good at the next level is, yeah, it's not as much of rah, rah, it's guys that, it's a business, but they still need a leader of men, right?"
The amount of success Tebow found under Meyer was unquestionable, just like countless other college athletes. Meyer is one of the best coaches in the history of college football for good reason. But the NFL is a different beast.
The players are different. The coaches are different. The literal hashes on the field are even different. There are concepts and strategies carried over from each level, both on and off the field, but there is a major adjustment period nonetheless. This is something Meyer himself admitted at his owning press conference.
"And I’ve always looked at the college environment as an opportunity to—not that we’re not going to do it in the NFL, but you’re dealing with 17-, 18-, 19-year-olds that are leaving home for the first time and you’re also dealing with an academic environment. So, just a much different environment. However, between the white lines, I don’t see a lot of difference," Meyer said.
But it will be different. Meyer will have to adapt and reinvent himself while also bringing along the traits and qualities that made him such an impactful and successful coach at Florida, Ohio State, and every other stop he had.
Tebow is one believer in Meyer to do just that. There will be major adjustments at nearly every step of the way for Meyer, but one of his most prominent former players believes he can adjust in the ways he needs to. The future of the Jaguars' success will depend entirely on that.
"And I believe Urban could lead men, and I think what he does is he'll instill a culture of character, of hard work, of supporting one another, but then it's also that last little bit of belief of, hey, we're not going to show up hoping we're going to win, we're following the plan to win and it's different," Tebow said.
"And you know what, hope's not a strategy in football, OK, but you know what this plan that he’s going to come up with, that will be the strategy and people will buy into it. That's why I think he's got a chance to be really good at the next level.”
To listen to the entire podcast, click here.