Tebow praises QB Richardson’s mobility, mechanics and mentality
By MARK LONG AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – It didn’t take long for Tim Tebow to realize Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson was different. Less than an hour, in fact.
Tebow trained with Richardson days after freshman arrived on campus in January 2020. Richardson’s 6-foot-4, 236-pound frame stood out. Just like the strength of his arms, his mobility, his mechanics and his mentality.
“He’s very good,” Tebow said Friday, a day before Florida’s number 11 (2-0) faced top Alabama (2-0) in the swamp. “Obviously anyone can find out when you see it. You see he’s good. But I think he also has a very clear motion. … And then I think he has the mentality of wanting to be awesome. And I think the combination of these three things is something quite special.
Tebow is hardly alone. Florida fans are begging to see more of Richardson when the Gators host the Crimson Tide for the first time since 2011. Fourth-year junior Emory Jones has been less than impressive in two starts, throwing four interceptions against outclassed opponents Florida Atlantic and South Florida.
Richardson, meanwhile, has been one of the fastest growing players in the country. He landed a 73-yard touchdown in Game 1 and was even better in Week 2. He hooked up on 75 and 40 yard touchdown passes to Jacob Copeland and scampered for 80 yards.
He had teammates, coaches and fans screaming one second and gasping for the next when he grabbed his right hamstring at the end of that final round. He missed the rest of the game, leaving everyone wondering about his availability against Alabama. He has been training all week and should play.
How long or how much will depend on coach Dan Mullen, who insists Jones is his starter and Richardson remains an option for a change of pace.
But after counting three touchdowns in an eight-series bench work game, Richardson could be in line for a larger role against the reigning national champions and ahead of a sold-out stadium.
“He’s probably not necessarily the fastest guy out there, but when he goes for it he can run away from you,” said Tebow, who resumed his role as the SEC network analyst after failing to make a comeback. NFL as a tight end at 34. “You see him sort of running with guys, then he gets 10, 15 (yards downstream), and about 20, all of a sudden he starts to leave them.
“He’s got that kind of long distance track speed that can slip away for a lot of big games.”
Tebow’s on-air teammate, former Alabama and NFL security Roman Harper, has warned anyone who thinks Richardson is ready to take over.
“He’s an explosive athlete. He can bring it home anytime, and either throw it or throw it. It’s lightning in a bottle, I can’t wait for that to happen, ”Harper said. “But the whole offense is so much simplified when it’s in play. Run, quarterback run or (deep) shot play. It does not have the effect of the whole playbook or the whole passing game.
“It won’t beat Alabama. You won’t beat him by just performing this offense. They will adapt and just push you aside.
Florida lost seven straight games to the Crimson Tide, a slippage that began with the Southeastern Conference Championship game in 2009. It was Tebow’s penultimate game with the Gators – and the last time someone gave so much hope to the program wearing the No.15.
“I like it,” Tebow said with a smile. “I like it.”
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