Monday, January 21, 2013
Changing the game: UF's 2006 class
By Michael DiRocco
Star QB Tim Tebow helped Urban Meyer win two national championships at Florida.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The headliner of Florida’s 2006 signing class was QB Tim Tebow.
He was arguably one of the most hyped recruits in prep football history -- he was the subject of an ESPN documentary entitled “The Chosen One” -- and getting Tebow’s signature on a letter of intent was Urban Meyer’s biggest victory in his 18 first months as UF’s coach.
But the Gators landed more than just an eventual Heisman Trophy winner in 2006. Meyer put together one of the greatest signing classes in school history, a group that included nine starters on the 2008 BCS National Championship team and seven players still in the NFL in 2012.
Tebow played a significant role in 2006 to help the Gators win the school’s second national championship, but so did RB/WR Percy Harvin. He rushed for 428 yards and three touchdowns, caught 34 passes for 427 yards and two touchdowns, and averaged 11.4 yards per touch.
Tebow had a monster year in 2007, becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman after becoming the first player in NCAA history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns. Harvin also had a big year (1,622 yards of total offense), and two other ’06 signees also cracked the starting lineup: MLB Brandon Spikes and DE Jermaine Cunningham.
But it was in 2008 that the class really flourished. In addition to Tebow, Harvin, Spikes and Cunningham, five other signees were starters: DT Terron Sanders, DT Lawrence Marsh, WR Riley Cooper, KR/PR Brandon James, and OL Carl Johnson. They formed the core of the Gators’ national championship team, which was won the title by defeating Oklahoma 24-14.
The Gators fell one game short of playing for a second consecutive national title in 2009, but still went 13-1. Eight members of the 2006 signing class were part of a senior class that posted a 48-7 record in their career, a mark that at the time was the best in Southeastern Conference history.