Florida reveals statues at spring game
He's running with the ball.
Florida honored its three Heisman Trophy winners with life-sized statues outside the stadium. The Gators unveiled bronze statues of Spurrier (1966), Wuerffel (1996) and Tebow (2007) during halftime of Saturday's spring game. The thing that stood out was Tebow's depiction.
"That's fine," Tebow said. "You have to change it up. We can't all be throwing."
Tebow and Wuerffel were on hand for the unveiling. Spurrier thanked his alma mater in a videotaped message. He was in Columbia, S.C., for South Carolina's spring game. One of his daughters, Amy Moody, attended the ceremony in his place.
"It's kind of hard to put in words," Moody said. "It's not often in life people dedicate a statue to you. It means a great deal."
The statues, which weigh between 1,700 and 2,000 pounds, were placed on the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium near the skybox entrance. They were paid for by private donations.
"When do you ever think growing up that you'll have a statue somewhere where people will look at it and have great memories?" Wuerffel said. "It's even more special being next to two guys that I love and admire in my coach, Steve Spurrier, and my friend, Tim Tebow. That even makes it more special for me."
Spurrier threw for more than 4,800 yards and 37 touchdowns as a three-year starter in Gainesville. His most notable play might not have even been at his position. He kicked a 40-yard field goal to beat Auburn 30-27 during his senior season.
Spurrier returned to coach his alma mater in 1990. He led the Gators to six Southeastern Conference championships and the 1996 national title with Wuerffel at the helm. Under Spurrier's guidance, Florida won 122 games in 12 seasons and went 68-5 in Gainesville. He helped create one of the best home-field advantages in college football and even nicknamed the stadium "The Swamp."
Spurrier welcomed the process of posing for the statue, but made his priorities clear by filming his message in a black South Carolina shirt and sitting in a Gamecocks team meeting room.
"This is one of the best honors I've ever had in my life," Spurrier said.
Wuerffel, who threw for more than 3,600 yards and 39 touchdowns in 1996, echoed Spurrier's sentiments. But he stopped short of calling it one of his best moments at Florida Field.
"There have been so many wonderful memories, from hugging a teammate after a touchdown to being picked up after a sack from one of my buddies," Wuerffel said. "This is one of those that is kind of hard to grasp at the moment. I'm sure as the years go by it'll become more clear what this means."
Tebow, not surprisingly, had the largest contingent on hand for the ceremony. He had friends, family members and a bunch of former teammates at Florida Field. One of college football's greatest players, Tebow had 32 touchdown passes in 2007 and ran for 23 more.
He became the first player to score at least 20 touchdowns rushing and passing, then became the first sophomore to win the Heisman.
"I feel like I'm not just a player, but I'm part of it," Tebow said. "I grew up a Gator and that just makes it that much more special."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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