Nelson and Tebow draw similarities

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PROVO -- The similarities are eerie.

Both are left-handed. Both have served missions (albeit for different religions). In high school both were named Mr. Football and Parade All-American. And, both were backup quarterbacks.

Two weeks ago Tim Tebow and Riley Nelson could be found on the sidelines listening to coaches call plays and wondering if and when they'll get a chance to show what they can do.

Today, both have been named the starting quarterback for their team. BYU prepares to travel to Oregon State and the Denver Broncos take the week off before traveling to Miami.

Both men are close in age. Tebow is 24, and Nelson is 23. Both men speak with confidence and suave when talking with the media. And, both men have an ability to inspire others and draw the best out of them.

"Tim adds a great spark for us, so we're looking forward to seeing what he can do," former Bronco quarterback, Hall of Famer, and current Denver VP of football operations John Elway said in an interview with the USA Today.

Senior running back JJ Di Luigi said similar things about Nelson in an interview with the Daily Herald.

"He brings a spark to our offense, one that we were searching for," Di Luigi said. "He's been the guy to kind of give us that. I think the offense is moving in such a great direction."

"He can break a tackle and scramble around, and now your play is completely shot," Di Luigi said. "Everyone is running around and that makes it more interesting and exciting. I think our offense is moving at a better pace."

Nelson and Tebow have similar styles of play that bring excitement and hope to each team. Known more for their running ability than there passing prowess, both Tebow and Nelson are replacing pocket-passing quarterbacks that have struggled to inspire their team and subsequently win ball games.

BYU fans were frustrated with Jake Heaps' lackluster performance in the first few games of the season. Apparently, so were the coaches.

Denver fans have been calling for Tebow over incumbent starter Kyle Orton for weeks as their Broncos have failed to win games and fans struggled to find any sort of hope. Hence the call for Tebow.

"Regardless of when you start this kid, you've got to embrace his style. He's not a rhythm quarterback -- I don't think he ever is going to be a rhythm, NFL-style quarterback. So you need to embrace it; you need to change launch points; you need to let him run the football," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.

It is that scrambling ability, the helter skelter style, the knack to "just make plays" that intrigues coaches, inspires fans, and frustrates defense.

Elway says Tebow has the moxie, competitive spirit, and work ethic to lead the Broncos.

"I think one of the great things is Timmy's got that work ethic to get better, and I think that we've seen tremendous improvement this year compared to last year in his ability to throw the football and his accuracy," Elway said.

Likewise, head coach Bronco Mendenhall and receiver Cody Hoffman see the same thing in Nelson.

"He is someone I admire for just the natural competitive mindset that he has. He hasn't been on the sideline pouting but has been out on special teams helping our team. He's a fierce competitor," Mendenhall said.

"I'm happy for him because I know that he's a hard worker," Hoffman said. "He inspires me to work harder just because of the attitude he brings to the team."

Both Mendenhall and Broncos head coach John Fox have put their trust in the hands of these two quarterbacks and the fortunes of their teams squarely on their shoulders.

We've seen flashes of brilliance and an equal amount of head scratching moments. Now it is just a matter of time to see if they can succeed.

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Andrew Devey


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