GAINESVILLE, FLA. At Southeastern Conference media days in July, Florida coach Urban Meyer joked about all the questions surrounding quarterback Tim Tebow.
"We're going to run the ball every play this year," Meyer said. "Tim can't throw. Yeah, tell all the other teams in the league that, too."
Five months later, Tebow has proved to be much more than passable as a passer. He's become the best player in college football.
The Florida star won AP Player of the Year honors Tuesday in a vote that was similar to the one that made him the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.
"That's cool," Tebow said Tuesday. "Again, it's a huge honor. It's a cool thing. Any time you're honored for an individual award, it goes back to the team. Without those guys and their support, you can't accomplish something like that on your own."
Tebow received 31 of a possible 58 votes from AP poll voters. Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the Heisman runner-up, received 19 votes, and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was third with four votes.
Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon received three votes and West Virginia quarterback Pat White received one vote.
Tebow became the first player in major college history to run for at least 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season. He accounted for 51 touchdowns, including a Southeastern Conference record 22 rushing, and set a school record with 3,970 yards of total offense. He also was the second-rated quarterback in the country, completing 68 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards.
"You don't want to just take the credit," Tebow said. "You have to share the credit. I just do the easy part."
Although Meyer gets most of the credit for Tebow's success - Meyer handpick Tebow to run Florida's spread-option offense, threw him into the mix as a freshman and then turned him loose as a sophomore - offensive coordinator Mullen did even more to help Tebow shatter records and make history this season.
Mullen retooled Tebow's mechanics, rewired his brain to make him think throw first, run second, and then revamped the offense to showcase Tebow's abilities.
Tebow was rewarded with the Heisman Trophy and several other prestigious awards. Along the way, he developed a strong relationship with Mullen.
"He's helped me out a lot," Tebow said. "He's a very knowledgeable person about everything, not just football, about life and politics and stuff like that. You learn a lot of things from him. He does a great job explaining things to me. Our relationship has really grown over the course of this year."
It took off in the spring, when Tebow was getting most of the repetitions and pretty much all of Mullen's attention.
This season, Tebow has come close to living up to his coach's expectations.