Wyndham wants to put Tebow hit in the past


Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, suffers a tremendous blow as he is tackled by UK defensive end Taylor Wyndham during the UK vs. Florida game Saturday, September 27, 2009. Tebow’s head smashed against teammate Marcus Gilbert’s knee during the play. Tebow suffered a concussion from the blow. Photo by Zach Brake

Taylor Wyndham likes the song “What I Want” by Hall and Oates. With six No. 1 singles, Hall and Oates weren’t a one-hit wonder, so Wyndham is trying to become a little more like Hall and Oates.

UK fans probably best remember Wyndham for one of the few memorable moments during Florida’s 41-7 shellacking of the Cats in Commonwealth Stadium a season ago. Gator fans probably best remember the sophomore defensive end for concussing their golden boy of college football, quarterback Tim Tebow, with a legal, yet punishing, hit in the third quarter of last year’s game.

Playing in front of roughly 90,000 fans at Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Wyndham expects to hear some boos from the crowd, but he wants to move away from being defined by the Tebow hit.

“It’ll be pretty cool (after Saturday’s game),” said Wyndham, who has received a lot of media attention all week. “Hopefully, people will forget about it and they will remember me for making a big play this weekend.”

The 6-foot-4, 238-pound lineman from Swansea, S.C., wasn’t fond of the notoriety he received last season after the Tebow hit and he still hasn’t warmed up to it.

Although many players might be more likely to boast about knocking out Tebow, now with the NFL’s Denver Broncos, the individual feat never appealed to Wyndham.

“Probably what it all boils down to is that we lost the game,” UK defensive line coach David Turner said. “We would all rather have the win and that’s what we’re all striving for…if we get notoriety for the right things, in terms of winning the game, I’m sure (Wyndham) would be OK with it.”

Wyndham’s play this season on the defensive line has warranted attention, and perhaps for better reasons than a single hit.

“(Wyndham’s) playing really, really well for us,” UK head coach Joker Phillips said. “(He’s put) a lot of pressure on the quarterback, getting off blocks, making plays.”

Turner said continued rehabilitation from offseason shoulder surgery and inexperience have somewhat hindered the under-sized Wyndham, who added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, but that his progression is steady.

“I’ve got to keep making plays,” said Wyndham, who is striving for consistency and not only the occasional big play. “I’ve got to work on my run-stop defense, I think I’m pretty good in the pass, but when it comes to first, second down I need to work on that a little bit more.”

Developing more consistency hasn’t come at the expense of Wyndham’s big-play ability, however.

Against Akron, Wyndham notched 1.5 sacks for a loss of 13 yards, and in the Cats’ season opener against Louisville he forced a fumble and tallied two tackles; although UK’s first three opponents haven’t possessed the quickest of offenses.

“I’m not sure who can match up with (Florida), they’re a fast football team,” Turner said. “The big thing for us that we talk about is that everybody has got to be where they’re supposed to be, and be in your gap, do your job responsibly. It’s not going to take any kind of super-human effort…we’ve got to play smart football.”

The UK coaching staff has ensured that its defense will not be intimidated by the Gators’ reputation.

“I think our defense is faster than its been in past years, might be a bit smaller, but I think we’re pretty quick and we’ll be able to contain them,” Wyndham said.

Wyndham hopes getting a win on the road at Florida will go a long way in making people forget the Tebow hit. He also said making a big play—except knocking out Florida quarterback John Brantley—would help.

“It’s just football, stuff happens and if (Brantley getting knocked out) happens, I don’t mean for it to,” Wyndham said.