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1996 Heisman hopes 2007 Heisman returns, though he knows NFL is an option

MIAMI — Count Danny Wuerffel among those who hope Florida QB Tim Tebow comes back for his senior year.

The former Florida quarterback received a loud ovation as he was recognized before Thursday's title game as one of 10 former Heisman winners in attendance celebrating 75 years of the award. Wuerffel won the statue in 1996 then led the Gators to a national title by beating FSU 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl.

"I'm a Florida Gator, and we definitely want him to come back," Wuerffel said. "He's — like a lot of other guys — got a tough decision to make. And I don't know how (Thursday) will play into that or not.

"I know a big question a lot of people ask: Do I think he has a chance to play in the NFL? I think if he is in the right place, with the right coach that can utilize his talents, he can be very effective."

FAMILIAR FACES: Among the 80,000 fans at Dolphin Stadium were many of the Florida players from the 2006 national championship team and former basketball national champion Al Horford. Former QB Chris Leak said the former players still feel a connection to this team and the program and wanted to be there to support them. He has fond memories of his title game.

"It's special any time you play in a championship," Leak said. "It was special in 2006, and this is special for these guys."

Leak said he visited with the team last week, and he has also talked with Tebow about the possibility of leaving early for the NFL.

"It would be hard for him to leave, I believe," Leak said. "He is the same Tim, but he's matured into a more complete player. He does love Florida.

"I think it would be hard for him to pass up (his senior year). I know that."

BIG-TIME SPECTATOR: Former President Bill Clinton also was in attendance and was shown on the stadium video board. He received a good amount of boos from the Dolphin Stadium crowd.

RARE MISTAKES: Tebow had gone 117 passing attempts without an interception before Oklahoma's Nic Harris picked off a pass with 9:20 left in the first quarter. Tebow's last interception came against Kentucky on Oct. 25. The junior holds the third-longest streak in SEC history in that category, going a school-record 203 attempts without a pick this season.

The Jacksonville-area product then equaled his season total entering the game when he threw a pass right to DT Gerald McCoy with 7:29 left in the second quarter.

Big Stop: Former Armwood standout Torrey Davis made one of the biggest plays early when UF's sophomore defensive tackle stuffed RB Chris Brown at the 1 on Oklahoma's fourth-and-goal try with 5:20 left in the second quarter.

injuries: Redshirt freshman RB Chris Rainey was brought down awkwardly late in the second quarter and sustained a right high ankle sprain. Rainey caught a pass in the left flat and juked Oklahoma DB Dominique Franks before being brought down by LB Keenan Clayton near the Florida sideline. He did not return.

Then in the third quarter, WR Louis Murphy twice was helped off with what appeared to be leg cramps. The second time, he headed for the locker room.

This hurts, Too: For several players whose season was cut short by injury, Thursday was bittersweet. Among them: DT Brandon Antwine, TE Cornelius Ingram, DT Troy Epps and DL Matt Patchan were perhaps the most prominent of the losses. Ingram is the only senior.

"That's the only thing that I really hate about this profession," assistant coach Dan McCarney said.

1996 Heisman hopes 2007 Heisman returns, though he knows NFL is an option 01/08/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 7:49am]
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