Is UGA recruit the next Tebow? Let’s stop that talk right now

Cameron Smith

Unless you're a die-hard Georgia fan, or a big follower of all things Florida high school football, you probably haven't read much about quarterback Faton Bauta. At least not yet. The Pal Beach Gardens (Fla.) High dual threat QB earned headlines on Monday by officially committing to play quarterback at Georgia, turning his back on the likes of Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia and Maryland, among other offers.

Dwyer quarterback Falon Bauta

Still, it's not Bauta's unique name that caught most people's eyes, it's the name he's being compared to: Tim Tebow.

As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Michael Carvell, Bauta -- who is in his first season as a starting quarterback for West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer High -- has begun to elicit the moniker of "the next Tim Tebow." While there are a few valid reasons for the comparisons -- both passers are 6-foot-3, and Bauta stands a Tebow-thick 220 pounds as a high school senior in Florida -- there are also plenty of reasons why calling the 18-year-old a new Tebow are outright ridiculous.

Prime among those are that Bauta is nowhere near as battle-tested a quarterback as Tebow was by his senior season, having never taken a snap as a starter before his final high school season. While Tebow was a top-25 national recruit as a senior home-schooled student played for Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) Nease High, Bauta doesn't even make the national lists. He's ranked 62 places lower among his respective recruits from the state of Florida than Tebow was at his age.

Still, that hasn't kept some from making the comparison, as unfair and irresponsible as that may be. After all, no prep prospect deserves to be compared to a man who is still hailed as a pseudo messiah in Florida and in a variety of other cultish college football circles, particularly not a high school senior with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions, with a completion percentage of just 52.6 percent. For a comparison, Tebow threw for 31 touchdowns with only four interceptions, and completed more than 10 percent more of his passes. Bauta's six touchdowns on the ground don't really bring up visions of Tebow's ground dominance and 20 senior touchdowns, either.

Does that mean that Bauta won't be a good college player? Hardly. In fact, his versatility -- he starred as a linebacker long before he emerged as a legitimate dual-threat quarterback -- makes him an especially sought after recruit. The athleticism he's shown at both positions, not to mention his impressive size and voracious work ethic, have all been cited as major factors indicating likely future success.

"I've been coaching for 23 years, and he has the best work ethic of any kid that I've seen," Dwyer defensive coordinator Bobby Seifert told affiliate when asked about Bauta. "He does a ton of extra training on his own. He usually stays for extra time on Saturdays and sometimes I'll even come to watch film on Sundays and he's running on his own. He's incredible.

"The other upside to him is that he has a huge upside. He's not even close to his potential. This is the first year he has played quarterback where he was a thrower. He's always been in a system where he has been a running quarterback. He has a really strong arm and is going to get so much better. It's amazing how much better he gets every day."

Those accolades certainly provide anecdotal evidence that Bauta could be a successful player at the Division I level. Will he be "the next Tim Tebow"? Why don't we just kill all that talk before it even gets started.

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