NEW YORK – Tim Tebow needed only two years of college to graduate to Heisman Trophy winner, putting the sophomore in a class by himself.
Florida's folk-hero quarterback with the rugged running style and magnetic personality won the Heisman on Saturday night to become the first sophomore or freshman to take college football's most prestigious award.
Since 1935, when Jay Berwanger of Chicago won the first Heisman, every winner had been a junior or senior — until Tebow.
He beat out Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the first player since 1949 to finish second in consecutive seasons. Tebow received 1,957 points and 462 first-place votes to McFadden's 1,703 points and 291 first-place votes.
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was third, and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel fourth.
A year after Tebow helped Florida win a national title, and in his first season as the Gators' starter, the chiseled 235-pound quarterback in a fullback's body put together a historic campaign. He's the first major college player to run for 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season.
In an unpredictable college football season, the Heisman race was as unsettled as the national title chase. Tebow emerged as the front-runner even though Florida (9-3) stumbled early.
Six of the last seven Heisman winners picked up their bronze statues on the way to playing in the national championship game. Tebow won't get that chance this season, but Heisman voters didn't hold Florida's failure to defend its national title against him.