Tebow, Leaf among first-timers at HOF pick for college football | Sports

Tim Tebow, who led Florida to two national championships and won the 2007 Heisman Trophy, is among former players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for the first time.

The National Football Foundation on Monday announced the players and coaches eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, and 11 of the 80 players in the Football Bowl Subdivision are debuting on the ballot.

The votes are reviewed by the NFF’s Courts of Honor, who then advise and select a class of about a dozen players and two or three coaches.

Ohio State College Football Hall of Famer and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin chairs the Honors Court, which includes sports administrators, Hall of Famers and members of the media from across the country.

Some of the other former players making their debut include Utah quarterback Alex Smith, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, defensive lineman Dewey Selmon from Oklahoma and former Washington State Quarterback Ryan Leaf.

Tebow was the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy and he was a three-time SEC Offensive Player of the Year, setting 28 school records during his 2006–09 career.

Chris Leak beat Tebow for Florida’s starting quarterback job in 2006, but coach Urban Meyer used Tebow in goal-line situations where he could use his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame as a runner. Tebow’s role expanded, and he threw for a touchdown and rushed for another in the Bowl Championship Series title game against Ohio State.

During his 2007 Heisman season, he became the first FBS quarterback to throw 20 touchdowns and score 20 points in the same season, and his 55 combined touchdowns were the most in SEC history.

The Gators won the title in 2008, with Tebow leading them past Oklahoma in the championship game, and he led Florida to a second straight 13-1 record in 2009.

Tebow has spoken openly about his Christian faith. His tendency to kneel in prayer in the field became widely known as “Tebowing.” He often wore eye black that referred to Bible verses.

Pro football analysts debated how Tebow would move to the NFL. The Denver Broncos drafted him in the first round in 2010, but he was mostly a backup in three seasons, his last with the New York Jets. He later played minor league baseball with the New York Mets organization.

Leaf won the 1997 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year trophy with the Cougars and led WSU to their first conference football title and first Rose Bowl berth in 67 years. Leaf finished the season with 3,968 passing yards and 34 passing touchdowns.

The former quarterback finished his career at Pullman with 7,433 passing yards and 59 touchdowns to 24 interceptions for a 141.4 passer rating before being selected #2 overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 1998 NFL Draft.

Among the coaches on the ballot for the first time are Mark Richt, Larry Coker and Frank Solich.

Richt was with Georgia from 2001 to 2015 and with Miami from 2016 to 2018. He won 74 percent of his Georgia games and led the Bulldogs to five SEC title games.

Coker was 60-15 with a national championship at Miami from 2001-06, including 35-3 in his first three years. He finished his career with UTSA from 2011-15.

Solich succeeded Tom Osborne in 1998 and led the Cornhuskers to the 2001 national title shot. He was fired in 2003 despite going 58-19. He became the highest-grossing coach in Ohio’s Mid-American Conference history before retiring in the summer of 2021.

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