Florida casts Tebow's legend in bronze; Wuerffel, Spurrier, too

Steve Spurrier is passing, Danny Wuerffel is preparing to throw, and Tim Tebow is, well, doing what he does best.

He's running with the ball.

The University of Florida honored its three Heisman Trophy winners with life-sized statues outside the stadium. The Gators unveiled bronze likenesses of Spurrier (1966), Wuerffel (1996) and Tebow (2007) during halftime of Saturday's spring game.

Tebow's depiction stood out among the three.

"That's fine," said Tebow, who's now with the Denver Broncos. "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 because he was in Columbia, S.C., for South Carolina's spring game. One of his daughters, Amy Moody, attended the ceremony in the Gamecocks coach's 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. Private donations covered the costs.

"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 at Florida, but his most notable play might not have been at quarterback. 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, then 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 at home. Spurrier helped create one of the best home-field advantages in college football and even nicknamed the stadium "The Swamp."

Spurrier also played and coached in the NFL. After winning the Heisman in his senior season, Spurrier was the third overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1967 draft. He played 10 seasons in the NFL with the 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Spurrier returned to the league as a head coach in 2002, guiding the Washington Redskins to a 12-20 record in two seasons. Wuerffel was Spurrier's quarterback in 2002.

Spurrier welcomed the process of posing for the statue, but he 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 Wuerffel 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," he 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."

Wuerffel was a fourth-round draft pick by New Orleans in 1997 and spent six years in the NFL with the Saints, Redskins, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

Tebow, a first-round pick by the Broncos in the 2010 NFL Draft, had the largest contingent on hand for the ceremony. Friends, family members and a bunch of former teammates were at Florida Field.

One of college football's greatest players, Tebow threw for 32 touchdowns and ran for 23 more in 2007, making him the first player to score at least 20 passing and rushing. That season, he became the first sophomore to win the Heisman.

Tebow led the Gators to the BCS national championship in the 2008 season, two years after also winning one as Chris Leak's backup.

"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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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