There is no better praise than the kind that comes from a rival player, team or coach. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, the youngest winner in the history of the United States Sports Academy’s Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award, receives plenty of praise from coaches all over the Southeastern Conference.

“Football. Athleticism. Leadership. Charity work. His faith. You name it. I’ve never seen anybody who had all that in one package,” said Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley, who guided Florida’s main rival for 25 years.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose team ended the Gators’ 22-game winning streak and reign as national champions during the SEC championship game on 5 December, said following the contest that he used Tebow’s character as an example of how he wanted his players to conduct themselves.

Tebow’s skill on the football field — two national championships and a Heisman Trophy — has made him one of the most celebrated college football players in the history of the sport. His actions away from the gridiron have vaulted him into a stratosphere athletes rarely visit.

Raised in a family with missionaries as parents, Tebow has followed in their footsteps. He frequently participates in overseas missions to countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Croatia. He speaks to and prays with prison inmates and has visited orphanages and leper colonies and volunteers at hospitals. Tebow and his teammates also take part in an event called the Gator Charity Challenge which benefits local charities.

With one more game remaining in his college career, Tebow has compiled a 34-6 career record as a starting quarterback. He is the SEC’s all-time touchdown leader (141) and all-time rushing touchdown leader (56).

The Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated a concern for mankind. The winner should exhibit the qualities of dedication, grace under pressure, personal sacrifice, compassion, hope, and dignity that characterize the promotion of human welfare and social reform.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson broke the baseball color barrier by displaying his skills while at the same time subjugating his pride, to prove an awareness of our failings as well as his abilities. Had he lacked the discipline, not to mention the dedication, America and sport would be spiritually and athletically poorer.