GAINESVILLE — His memory temporarily left him and didn't begin to return fully until sometime after he arrived at a hospital in Kentucky suffering from a concussion. His phone calls included former NFL players who wanted to offer support and advice.
Most of all, the experience of suffering his first concussion, and the aftermath of the recovery, has given Florida QB Tim Tebow an even greater appreciation of the gift of playing major college football.
"I think it was very humbling because you know at any moment it can be over," Tebow said Monday. "And it was not something that I could fight through. It doesn't matter how tough you are. Instantly, it's lights out and you don't know how much football you have left. So it's a blessing to get back on the field, and you realize how much you do love the game and how much you love playing. That's honestly what I missed the most, not being able to go out there and practice and play. I realized how much I do love the game."
During the two weeks Tebow spent recovering, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Steve Young — who had seven concussions in his career, four in his final three NFL seasons — offered the best advice.
"The one person who really gave me a lot of encouragement and I talked to several times was Steve Young," Tebow said. "He went through it a lot with concussions, and he was very kind in reaching out to me and talking to me. He gave me different things that could possibly help with it, and just getting back and encouraging me, which was very kind of him and something he didn't have to do. But I really appreciated it."
Signs of maturity: Despite seemingly nonstop distractions this season, UF will prepare for homecoming against Arkansas still No. 1 and undefeated.
"This whole season has been a lot of stuff," coach Urban Meyer said. "Every week it seems like something is showing up. You emotionally have got to be in the right place, mentally have got to be in the right place, you've got to handle yourself and be able to get through the adversity that hits every team. Some teams don't handle adversity very well. That's when you lose games. And our guys seem to handle it. Their maturity is really showing."
Calling out Spikes: Senior LB Brandon Spikes was named SEC defensive player of the week based on his performance in Saturday's 13-3 win over LSU. Spikes had a team- and season-high 11 tackles, including a career-high three sacks for a loss of 14 yards. Turns out, he was extra motivated to perform after he was publicly called out by ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit. During Saturday's College GameDay telecast, the analyst said DE Carlos Dunlap and "No. 51" (Spikes) needed to step up and play better for the Gators to win.
"(Spikes) just heard about it, and he knew he had to go step up and meet the expectations because he got called out on national TV," Dunlap said.
CB Joe Haden said, "Spikes said Coach (Charlie) Strong probably called Herbstreit and told him to call him out" but that the senior was out to prove he's still the dominant player he was last season, despite battling an Achilles' problem this year.
Meyer welcomes the public criticism of his players.
"When you call out 8 and 51, I love when that happens," he said. "If someone wants to call out Tebow, help yourself. Call out Coop (Riley Cooper), I'm good with that, too. Make yourself at home. It helps our job. Those guys aren't lacking confidence."
Game times set: Saturday's game against Arkansas will be at 3:30 p.m. and televised on Ch. 10. The Oct. 24 game at Mississippi State has been set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff and will be on ESPN or ESPN2.