'MY DREAM IS TO BE A QUARTERBACK'

The big story of the NFL Scouting Combine Friday: University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who said despite detractors and doubters his focus is on playing quarterback in the NFL.

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Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow Draws Huge Attention at NFL Scouting Combine Friday

INDIANAPOLIS – He has been here before, Tim Tebow has.

In fact, he said he has been in this situation – with a lot of people in the football world doubting his football future, and certainly doubting his ability to be a star in that future – more often than people think.

But Tebow, a quarterback for the University of Florida and the Heisman Trophy winner in 2007, said while there are many doubting he can be an NFL quarterback and doubting he will be selected early in the 2010 NFL Draft, that sort of talk doesn't much matter.

What matters, Tebow said, is his dream. Part of that is to play in the NFL.

And the biggest part is to be a quarterback.

"I've overcome obstacles and barriers and hurdles along the way," Tebow said Friday afternoon at the NFL Scouting Combine, which is being held this weekend and is scheduled to run at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis through Tuesday, March 2.

"In high school, they said I couldn't be a quarterback. I've come a long way since then."

Tebow not only won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, he quarterbacked Florida to the 2008 national title game. Despite the accomplishments, there are many scouts and personnel officials who question his ability to make the transition to the NFL.

Still, his presence at the combine on Friday was unmistakable.

When Tebow entered the media room at the combine to speak, the largest crowd of the week to date gathered around him, with Tebow candidly and patiently addressing the many questions that have surrounded him since the end of this past season.

"For that many people to take an interest is a blessing," he said, smiling. "It means I've done something right."

Foremost among those questions is his throwing motion, and whether it will allow him to be effective at the professional level, but some NFL executives believe to look purely at Tebow's mechanics is to perhaps miss his real strengths.

"A good football player is a good football player," San Francisco 49ers General Manager Scot McCloughan said. "It's the reason why he's been successful. You can't lose sight of the intangibles he brings with him. There's no reason why he can't be successful in the NFL. You look at (San Diego Chargers quarterback) Philip Rivers and his release, and everybody will make fun of that and say things about that, but it doesn't matter.

"All that counts is what he does on the field and does he win games – that's what you get measured by.

And that's all he's done."

Tebow said on Friday he has worked since last season on his mechanics. He said he has worked primarily to remove the "loop" from his motion, adding that he essentially is releasing the ball from the same place as he released it in college.

And while some have speculated that he might change positions at some point in the NFL – and while he said he is willing to help a team however necessary – he said there isn't any question about his primary objective.

"I don't know where I'll go," Tebow said. "I don't know what's going to happen. My dream is to be a quarterback, and I'm going to pursue that as much as I can. I've wanted to be a quarterback in the NFL – it has been my dream since I was six years old. I'm going to do what it takes to do that."

Tebow, who also helped Florida to a national title as a freshman, finished as one of the most successful players in college football history. He completed 661 of 985 passes for 9,286 yards and 88 touchdowns with 15 interceptions, and rushed for 2,947 yards and 57 touchdowns. He said on Friday he knows he will have to learn to run differently, perhaps less, and that he must lean to slide more often.

Mostly, he said, what he knows is that he doesn't know exactly what the future will hold, but he said he certainly has certain goals for what it might entail.

"I don't really know," Tebow said. "I don't really know what the team that drafts me wants to do with me. I don't know what their plan will be for me. It's understanding what they want to do with me, and then it's developing a plan for what we want to do. I'll do whatever it takes.

"Patience probably will be part of it. It's part of everything in life, but I don't know exactly what that means."

Also at the combine Friday:
* New England Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio on the combine: "The way we kind of look at it, if you evaluate the player over the course of the fall, let's say you watch six games, this is really kind of another game, it's another opunity for them to be evaluated, just like the all-star game. I think sometimes the combine, there is a lot of emphasis put on it, but the reality is that there is a lot of work that's been done prior to that, so this is kind of a culmination of things."

• Caserio on the upcoming draft: "I would say this year, the safety group is a pretty deep group. I think those conversion players, the defensive end/outside linebackers, I'd say that's a pretty deep group this year. There is a pretty good crop of tackles."

• St. Louis Rams General Manager Billy Devaney on four of the six franchised players in the NFL this offseason being defensive tackles: "They're hard to hit on, almost like a quarterback now. When you get a defensive tackle that can impact a game like these guys we're talking about, you better grab hold of them, and you better grab hold of them early."

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