With these words, Tim Tebow announced his intention to return to campus next season. It wasn’t as dramatic as the 04s’ return announcement where they dropped and broke a fake crystal basketball trophy, but it will do.
The immediate reaction has been to already name Florida as next season’s sure preseason No. 1 pick. Given that it took months for the consensus to form around Georgia as 2008’s preseason No. 1, it’s a bit hasty. However when at least 10 starters on defense, most of the offense, and the Heisman-winning quarterback are all coming back from a national title winning team, it makes sense to go ahead and call it now.
Tebow dropped hints all along the way that he would come back, the first probably before he even thought about 2009. During his famous speech after the Ole Miss game, he said that his goal for the season was to go undefeated, something that had never been done before at Florida. That signaled to me that no matter how the year ended, he’d have that unmet objective in the back of his mind.
Then of course throughout December he was asked about staying or leaving. The whole time he did an admirable job of making it sound like he was going to give the NFL a fair shot, but you could hear in his voice and read between the lines that his heart is not with the pros yet.
Percy Harvin hasn’t decided his course of action yet, but he meets with Urban Meyer today to help make up his mind. It’s encouraging that he said he’s leaning towards coming back, but honestly I’d tell him to leave if he asked me for advice. He’s been hurt so often, why risk another bad injury when you’re not getting first round money for it?
Ryan Stamper says that on the plane back from Miami, Brandon Spikes told him he’s coming back. I wish I still had the links (sorry), but I’ve seen one place where Spikes said Tebow’s decision would influence him greatly, and another where Charlie Strong said his advice would be to stay. Strong’s rationale was that Spikes might grade out a second or third round pick by the NFL draft report, and that the coaches only tell players to go if they grade out as first rounders.
Only one other Gator asked for a draft evaluation, and that was Brandon James. He has no intention of leaving early, but he desires to play in the NFL and wanted to know what he needed to do to get there. Makes sense.
I always try to control my expectations for this team, but I can’t this time. There is no reason to think that Florida shouldn’t be the national title favorite (catastrophic injuries not withstanding) with so many people coming back from a title-winning squad. I felt the same way about the 2006-07 basketball team, and the same applies with these guys.
How long is it again until September?