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Tebow ready for Senior Bowl

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

MOBILE, Ala. -- The questions came at Tim Tebow like a blitzing linebacker -- about his mechanics, ball placement, footwork, release. All that technical stuff that the Florida quarterback will continue hearing about as he tries to transition to the NFL.

And that was just from the media.

For all the talk about what he needs to change, Tebow is more focused on the latest piece of advice from Gators coach Urban Meyer ahead of his weeklong attempt to impress far more important observers: NFL executives and coaches at the Senior Bowl.

"Coach Meyer called me last night and he said, 'Promise me one thing: Just be you and you'll be fine,"' Tebow said Sunday, a day before the players go through weigh-ins and their first practices in front of a few hundred NFL personnel.

"I'm just going to be me. I'm going to be excited, I'm going to be passionate, I'm going to have fun," Tebow said. "I'm going to love playing the game out there, just like I always have. Hopefully the coaching staffs and the owners and general managers will just like me."

As usual, Tebow will be the most talked about and scrutinized player on either team leading up to Saturday's game. The Senior Bowl is his first real shot at answering the oft-voiced questions about whether he can successfully run an NFL offense, or whether he will have to switch to tight end or H-back.

He's not in Mobile, Ala., to show he can play either one of those fallback positions. "I'm here to be an NFL quarterback," Tebow said.

Tebow said it was an easy decision to come to the Senior Bowl and let NFL types pick apart his game -- including a long windup and the fact that he's got to go from the shotgun to taking snaps under center -- and pick his brain in face-to-face interviews.

"I'm going to be playing with a lot of the best players around the country," Tebow said. "Also it's an opportunity for me to compete, and that's never been anything I shied away from."

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called it "a brilliant move" because it lets Tebow put his intangibles like leadership on display.

"The fact that Tim Tebow is coming here and willing to expose himself to this kind of scrutiny, I think, speaks volumes to the type of kid that he is," Mayock said.

"Here's a guy that's arguably the best football player that ever played college football. Yet most NFL scouts will probably put him in the third round. He's got some major issues here, but he's so impressive a kid and those intangibles are so high."

So are the demands on his time. Even with Alabama stars like Terrence Cody and Javier Arenas on hand, Tebow still had to navigate fans wanting him to sign autographs and pose for photos at the downtown hotel where Senior Bowl players and coaches are staying.

An official even warned reporters not to ask for autographs before Tebow spoke at a news conference.

Walking out of the room, he stopped for a youngster who asked, "Can you please sign my ball?" Then he obliged when a woman pleaded, "Tim, can you pose for a quick picture?"

Beforehand, he shook hands with 10-year-old Garrett Dyess of nearby Spanish Fort, who was sporting a No. 15 Tebow jersey.

"I'm an Alabama fan, but I'm a huge Tebow fan," said Dyess, who waited another hour before managing to get Tebow's autograph.

Now, his job is to make the same kind of fans out of NFL teams. In the meantime, he can draw on the skepticism voiced by draft analysts for a little extra fuel.

"I look at myself as a pretty self-motivated person, so I don't really need to listen to all the critics," Tebow said. "But if I need a little extra motivation, they're all there. Maybe just throw them on the top to get a little extra motivation."

He said he hasn't signed any endorsement deals yet, but the outspoken Christian has drawn debate for a Super Bowl commercial that is believed to be an anti-abortion message.

Tebow is standing his ground on that position, just like he is on his playing position.

"I know some people won't agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe and I'm never shy about that," Tebow said. "I don't feel like I'm very preachy about it but I do stand up for what I believe. Unfortunately in today's society not many athletes seem to do that.

"I always stand for something."