Tim Tebow Has Been Inspiring Players, Coaches Since High School

January 13, 2012 – 5:30 am by Eric Schmoldt

Sure, there’s lots of great high school athletes that don’t come anywhere near sniffing the NFL ranks, but on some level it perhaps shouldn’t be so surprising that Tim Tebow is finding a way to lead his team to victory at the highest level of competition on the gridiron considering he’s doing this since he was 15 years old. Tebow was a nose guard at one high school as a freshman, but opted to change schools where he’d get the opportunity to play quarterback. He could do that because he was home-schooled.

Of course, as his high school coach Craig Howard tells it, that alone was controversial to some. Nearly a decade later, Tebow is still creating all sorts of high drama between his fans and his “haters.” Then again, he was declared America’s ‘Most Popular Athlete’ by one recent poll. Regardless, Howard also describes how Tebow brought the program from a doormat to being the state champion. Doesn’t sound all to dissimilar from what the scrutinized Broncos QB has overcome this year once given a shot to lead his team.

Craig Howard, Tim Tebow’s high school coach, joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Scott and BR to discuss the state of his program when he first started coaching Tim Tebow, the switch Tebow made from nose guard to quarterback after arriving at Nease High School in Florida, Tebow being home-schooled and how that affected Tebow’s involvement with the team, Tebow having a quick effect on the team and being the impetus behind the school no longer being a doormat, the inspirational leader that Tebow always was in high school, and if there was ever a moment where Tebow served as a source of inspiration for himself and the rest of the program’s coaching staff.

What was the situation when you first started coaching Tebow?:

“He was a ninth grader. He played nose tackle on his ninth grade team at Trinity High School. I took the job at Nease High School and he transferred in and wanted to be the quarterback.”

How did you handle that situation?:

“I took one look at him and had him come out and throw the ball a little bit and I said, ‘This one’s going to be a good one.’ His brothers were all linebackers … and I watched that state championship game when he was a freshman at nose guard. That spring, over at Nease High School, he started playing quarterback for us. He’d played Pop Warner quarterback, so he wasn’t new to the position, but I knew he was going to be a pretty special kid.”

He was home-schooled though, so how did that work?:

“When they’re home-schooled, they do their studies at home and then can come after school and participate in athletics. Timmy was a three-sport athlete, played football, basketball and baseball. … He was the only one at that time. It was very controversial with him being a home-schooled student. We played Hoover on ESPN, on national TV, and I think they even have a bill in Alabama called the Tim Tebow home-schooling law.”

What’s that about?:

“I guess kids in Alabama now can do it, too. … It was pretty controversial. Here was this outstanding quarterback breaking records, home-schooled. He was controversial from his ninth grade year until today.”

So he just took right over as the starter as a sophomore?:

“Yeah he steps right in. This school had not won games for a decade. They’d been the doormat. We played six Homecoming games. … Every time we played a game it was Homecoming because this team was just the doormat of the league. We started winning games, started doing some special things. People around Tebow started getting better to and this program rose to national prominence.”

Was Tebow a motivational, inspirational leader back then like people perceive him now?:

“Oh he had that in him from the very get go. I think that some people are good unto themselves and others can make others around them better. I told that these college coaches. … Those other players around him play better because of Tim Tebow. He’s the real deal; he’s not a phony. He’s the hardest-working guy I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Did you, personally, ever have a moment where he inspired you?:

“Absolutely. Sometimes in Florida it gets hot and humid and muggy and we’re out there at practice and this kid’s always, always, always got a smile on his face. … I’ve coached 38 years now and I’ve never seen a kid work this hard and smile every day. It made me a better coach.”

Listen to Craig Howard on XX Sports Radio in San Diego here

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