(Editor’s Note: Tim Tebow’s winning ways as a NFL starter created a great deal of interest in the highly competitive athlete. Tebow recently shared how he went through the recruiting process. Speaker Charlie Adams reviewed his popular book and wrote this article on how Tebow had success in finding the right College fit for him)
I speak on NCSA’s mission of Athleadership to athletes from around the world at locations such as the world class IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida. NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network is the recruiting education partner of IMG, where the likes of Kobe Bryant, Venus and Serena Williams, Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Nomar Garciaparra have trained.
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While traveling to Florida, I read with great interest the book of University of Florida great Tim Tebow. Tebow was the first sophomore in NCAA History to win the Heisman Trophy. He helped Florida win two BCS National Championships.
In all of my years of studying peak performer athletes and the recruiting process, I have always felt the number one quality of success is having ‘the fire within’ and being able to keep it stoked. Stoke the fire within!.
Tim Tebow’s fire is always stoked. The way he is winning as Broncos quarterback has a lot of people talking.
His book, “Through My Eyes” (Harper Collins Publishers) is a powerful read and filled with tools and insights that would help any athlete and coach. He explains his inner fire and how he keeps it stoked.
Tim Tebow's new book includes a chapter on his recruiting
Tebow includes an entire chapter on his recruiting process as a Quarterback in Jacksonville, FL. Though it seemed everyone ahead of him in his family went to the University of Florida and that he would have been a lock to go there, he states that he was open minded in the process. Alabama actually started out as the leader. Their fans used to come to his games as a tenth grader holding up signs trying to get him to come to Tuscaloosa.
Tebow and his family started making Unofficial Visits in his tenth grade year. Start the process early, folks. That’s what he did. Unofficial Visits are where it is on your dime, but they are a great way to develop relationships, get a feel for schools, meet Coaches and athletes, and more. The Tebow’s took them to Alabama a bunch of times, LSU, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Michigan, Southern Cal, Florida, Clemson, Notre Dame and others. He says South Bend was too cold (ironically the NFL team that drafted him was the Broncos in snowy and cold Denver) and Southern Cal was too far away from Florida.
One of the things I tell audiences is go where they really want you. Tebow could tell Alabama stood out there, as did Florida. A deep faith young man, Tebow said ‘Bama really did their research on him. It’s a given that when football recruits visit the bigtime schools, they line up the pretty girls as hosts, but at ‘Bama they were sincere Christian young ladies. ‘Bama knew how important his faith was to him. Other schools tried to throw girls at him, which was a turnoff because they had not learned enough about him to know he was serious about his faith.
Many of you will experience rejection by some schools in recruiting or have your dream school spurn you. The amazing Tim Tebow, who would go on and become a six foot three inch and two hundred and forty pound QB, was rejected as well. He says once Georgia got a commitment from quarterback Matthew Stafford (now with the Detroit Lions) they quit recruiting him, and were up front with him about it. He says on a visit to Tennessee his eleventh grade year they hardly paid attention to him. Just one assistant coach spoke to him. They were fawning over another quarterback prospect.
It is imperative young people know that their actions are being monitored all the time. Tebow says during his junior year Florida Coach Urban Meyer was allowed to get out and evaluate during the Spring and watched him play a baseball game. Coach Meyer told him later he was really impressed with Tebow’s leadership and that he had never seen a right fielder impact a team the way he did. College Coaches are always looking for those kinds of things. They really love the kids that are leaders in different sports. They also are big on speaking to all kinds of people in the building to get various takes on character. If you are a weasel, they will find out, scratch you off their recruiting list, and go to the next athlete. They often get candid insights from the cafeteria lady, the janitor or someone else off the beaten path. Always do the right thing. Scholarships are on the line.
In recruiting it is important to know when Coaches can call or email you in your sport so you have a feeling of where you stand in recruiting. Tebow writes that Sept. 1 of his senior year was when they could start calling, and at 12:01 AM that day he got a call from Louisville. The calls kept coming!
You can take five Official Visits as a senior and Tebow picked Alabama, Florida, LSU, Michigan and Southern Cal for his Visits. At Alabama one sign in the stands of a home game read: STABLER, NAMATH, TEBOW. That gets the attention of a kid!
Tebow writes that relationships with the Coach would be very important to him. Tebow is one of the most competitive athletes in history, so he felt close to Urban Meyer, who Tebow describes in his book as having “a work ethic and drive that were unparalleled.”
It is obvious in reading the book that Tebow was having a real hard time between Florida and Alabama. He had huge respect for ‘Bama Head Coach Mike Shula, a man of faith.
After many Talks I give, parents will come up to me and say, “Charlie, my child is good at two sports and she just can’t decide which one to play in College and focus on being recruiting in that sport.” Tebow was very good in baseball and football and probably could have gone pro in baseball one day. Here is how he puts it as far as how he decided which to pursue: “I did love baseball. Turning and connecting on an inside fastball is a great feeling. But football was my passion….”
What is your passion as a sport? I remember talking with the parents of former Mishawaka High standout offensive lineman Nick Banke. He was good enough in football to earn D1 offers and appeared headed that way, but one day he realized that his passion was taking his shot and discus across the street to the local park and working on that sport. It was his passion. He ended up signing with the University of Akron as a Thrower on the Track and Field team.
One of the factors in picking a school is the chance to play early. Tebow knew if he went to Florida they had an established senior at QB in Chris Leake, and that he probably wouldn’t start until sophomore year. At ‘Bama, he had a chance to start as a freshman. That was a factor to him but not a major one.
As I touched on earlier, Tebow made it clear the relationship with his Head Coach and other Coaches would be very important. I believe if you have the potential to be a professional athlete, then the Head Coach is critical in the recruiting process. However in 95% of the other cases in recruiting, the athlete is going pro in something other than their sport, as the NCAA says. In my view, the Coach is very important but having your Major, ranking of the school academically, and other things are more important. In Tebow’s case, though, he states it this way: “The identity of the coach was critical in making my decision.”
Although in football Signing Date isn’t until the first Wednesday in February, Tebow had decided to announce in December partly so he could help recruit other good players to wherever he was going. When it came time to announce, he still didn’t know when he woke up. He did call LSU, Michigan and Southern Cal and tell them he was not going there, but as far as Florida and Alabama, he was still torn.
“It was down to the final two. I had been praying about it regularly, and my family was praying as well. I had no doubt that the Lord was leading throughout this whole process, but what was unclear was determining where He was leading. People often seem to think that when you’re following the Lord and trying to do His will, your path will always be clear, the decisions smooth and easy, and life will be lived happily ever after and all that. Sometimes that may be true, but I’ve found that more often, it’s not. The muddled decisions still seem muddled, bad things still happen to believers, and great things can happen to non believers. When it comes to making our decisions, the key that God is concerned with is that we are trusting and seeking Him. God’s desire is for us to align our lives with His Word and His will.”
Tebow writes those feelings in his book but he would have appreciated if God had just yelled down from the heavens where to sign. That didn’t happen (what a Press Conference it would have been if that had happened!). Thirty minutes before his Press Conference, he still did not know. Florida? Alabama? He had such high respect for both head coaches that it was eating him up.
Twenty minutes before, he decided on Florida. He called ‘Bama Coach Mike Shula, who was very gracious. “Tim,” he began, “I love you as a person and a player. When I told you that you were going to have a great career and life of meaning, I meant it. I wanted it to be here, but it’s still true. I still love you, and you’re still going to do great things, even if it’s not at Alabama.”
Florida Coach Meyer had dealt with the anguish of waiting on Tebow’s decision by sitting on the forty-fifth row of Florida Field because forty five is his lucky number. In his book, Tebow cites Meyer’s passion as a major reason he announced for Florida. Both men are as passionate as they come. Tebow and Meyer would go on and become very close, having many talks about faith, competition and many other thing’s over the next four years.
Tebow signed with Florida, had a spectacular career, and has written an amazing book that reveals his inner fire. He shares his weightlifting and fitness routines, leadership insights, and much more. Athletes can learn how to stoke the fire within by reading about Tebow’s relentless fire.
At the start of each of his chapters, he has a Bible Verse. To lead off the chapter on his Recruiting experience, he shares Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Charlie Adams, NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network Senior Speaker
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For more information on Tim Tebow’s book “Through My Eyes”