Jeremy Lin (left) and Tim Tebow
02/23/2012 at 10:00 AM EST
They're two of the biggest names in American sports – and now, they're friends.
New York Knicks star point guard Jeremy Lin
, 23, and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow
, 24 – both famously devout Christians – have "connected," Lin's former chaplain at Harvard, Adrian Tam, tells PEOPLE.
"They've spoken over the telephone. Jeremy's been a fan of Tebow's for a while, but only recently were they able to connect," says Tam of Lin, who's followed Tebow since his quarterback days on the national champion University of Florida football team.
"His comment to me was that Tim is a really great guy and that he's very inspired by him," adds Tam.
It seems the feeling's mutual.
On Feb. 20 at the Cartoon Network's Hall of Game awards, Tebow told ESPN: "I've had the pleasure of getting to know him over the last few weeks and what a great guy he is."
No stranger to scrutiny for his very public affirmations of his religion, Tebow added that Lin is doing a "great" job with being in the spotlight.
"How he handles himself and how he carries himself, I think he's a great role model," says Tebow. "And I'm proud of it.
"I think he's handling himself great and I think he can take care of himself. And I just say keep being true to him and keep working hard and don't listen to everybody else."
Last November, at the height of Tebow-mania
, while dining in Brooklyn with former Harvard assistant coach Kenny Blakeney, CEO of the sports apparel company Sportin Scarves, Lin expressed his admiration for the unlikely Broncos star.
"He goes, 'Man, I love what he stands for,' " recalls Blakeney.
The two are often compared for their religion (they both hope to be pastors one day), as well as for their drive and hard work, which prompts Blakeney to add: "There's something there [in their faith] that I think has given those guys the discipline to fight through and break down walls in their professions."