HOOVER, Ala. — Florida grad Michelle King and her two small children staked out their spot at the foot of the Wynfrey Hotel’s escalators around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the first day of the SEC’s annual preseason media circus. Emma King, whose seventh birthday is Friday, held up an orange-and-blue lettered poster board that read: “All I Want 4 My Birthday Is to Meet Tim Tebow.”
By 12:45 p.m., when a pair of vans pulled up to the front of the hotel carrying the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and his coach, Urban Meyer, Emma had been joined in the lobby by about 150 other autograph-seeking fans, all of whom were left disappointed when the Florida contingent was whisked straight to an elevator to meet with the assembled media upstairs.
Finally, around 2 p.m., some two-and-a-half hours after arriving, Emma got her birthday wish. After some finagling between a school and hotel official, her family was discreetly plucked from amidst the throng and escorted to the second floor where, in a hidden alcove away from the media horde, the Gators star was introduced to his awestruck young fan, who broke into tears as he signed her Florida mini-helmet.