Tebow's Heisman advice to Newton: ‘Enjoy the time'

Tim Tebow knows about the Xbox and the treats backstage at the Heisman Trophy ceremony. He can tell you that Gino Torretta is the joker among the former winners who annually congregate at the event.

If anyone could guide Auburn quarterback Cam Newton through the Heisman award presentation, which Newton will attend Saturday in New York, Tebow would be the one. The Denver Bronco and former Florida Gator won it in 2007 and returned for the ceremonies the next two years as a finalist.

"To have your name called and to hear them say, ‘This year's Heisman Trophy winner is Tim Tebow,' to hear them say that, it's almost surreal," Tebow said by phone from Denver Thursday. "It doesn't even really hit you at first. You kind of have to think about it: ‘Did I really win the Heisman?'"

Tebow played for two seasons at Florida with Newton, a Westlake High grad, before he transferred. His advice for Newton?

"I would just say enjoy the time, which I know he will, knowing his personality," Tebow said. "Don't get overwhelmed or stressed out. If you win, they're going to ask you to do a lot of things. Handle it the best you can and remember that you just won the Heisman Trophy."

Tebow compared the event to a roller coaster, with functions to attend, former winners to meet and then the slow wait backstage for the show to begin.

"It feels like it's taking forever," he said. "But once the show starts, it goes a lot faster."

Tebow has been impressed watching Newton play this fall, citing his leadership and playmaking ability. To Tebow, Newton looked like the player he saw at Florida, just more so.

"We've seen him make a lot of plays at Florida in practice and everything," he said. "I think you can tell he worked because you can see his consistency definitely improved."

Tebow reserved comment on the NCAA investigation centered on Newton's recruitment out of Blinn College, saying that he handled the distractions well on the field but that he didn't know anything about the details of the investigation.

He also declined to reveal his Heisman vote, which Tebow receives as a former winner. He said he took it very seriously, making a point to watch players like LaMichael James of Oregon, Boise State's Kellen Moore and Stanford's Andrew Luck and considering criteria such as which player was the most valuable and which played the best in big games.

Tebow said "it's just easier" to not reveal his choice, aware of the media attention his choice would create.

Of Denver coach Josh McDaniel getting fired Monday and Florida coach Urban Meyer resigning Wednesday, Tebow said, "It's definitely been a very unique week."

He was happy and proud of Meyer for making the decision to leave Florida to spend time with his family and was confident Florida will find a suitable successor.

"They'll be fine," he said.