Gators suspend Tabor and Lewis for opener

Jalen Tabor had 40 tackles, four interceptions, a pair of pick-sixes and 14 passes broken up in 2015.

Jalen Tabor had 40 tackles, four interceptions, a pair of pick-sixes and 14 passes broken up in 2015.

Published on Wednesday, 8/17/16, at 12:14 p.m. Eastern.

UPDATE: According to multiple reports, the suspensions were due to a scuffle between Tabor and Lewis at practice that carried over to another altercation in the locker room later. Both players will return to practice this Thursday.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain announced Wednesday that junior cornerback Jalen Tabor and sophomore tight end C’yontai Lewis have been suspended from team activities and won’t play in the Sept. 3 season opener vs. Massachusetts at The Swamp.

“Both C’yontai and Jalen will not be involved with the team or practice due to behavior that is not acceptable,” McElwain said. “By no means are these bad guys and yet consequences have been handed down. We will not look the other way when it comes to breaking of team policies.

“I want to echo what I said earlier, these are both fine young men who will learn and be stronger from their actions. They will also be suspended for the first game. There are life lessons in everything we do. We will be better because of it and no one person is bigger than the Florida Gators.”

When football players are suspended for the season opener, the chances are at least 90 percent that it’s for testing positive for weed at some point during the offseason. This occurs at most major football programs every year.

Many times, however, these announcements won’t come until an hour or two before a season opener is scheduled to kick. This if why I often hesitate to make large wagers on Week 1 games out of fear of such last-second news.

As a Florida alum, this is also why I’m always stoked to see my Gators play a cupcake opponent in Week 1 because several suspensions such as this are almost a given.

In fact, UF hasn’t played a BCS or Power Five foe in its opener since hosting Houston in 1995. And that was the Cougars’ last season in the now defunct Southwestern Conference. Since UH is now in the AAC, we would technically have to go back to the 1992 opener when Florida beat Kentucky for its last Week 1 game against a current Power Five school.

Next season will be an exception, though. Florida will take on Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad at Jerry World in Arlington for its 2017 opener.

Tabor is considered one of, if not the, nation’s best cover corners along with Iowa’s Desmond King and USC’s Adoree’ Jackson.

Tabor, who wants to be known as ‘Teez’ rather than Jalen moving forward, had 40 tackles, four interceptions, 14 passes broken up, three tackles for loss and one sack in 2015. Two of his four interceptions were pick-sixes.

Lewis had a pair of TD catches in last year’s season-opening win over New Mexico St. However, a hand injury kept him out for a big chunk of September and early October. He finished the year with four receptions for 75 yards. Lewis is expected to be the No. 2 TE behind DeAndre Goolsby.

In other UF news, junior LB Matt Rolin has decided to retire from football. The former four-star recruit has dealt with a rash of injuries since arriving in Gainesville, including a pair of major knee injuries. Rolin started a pair of games last season and had seven tackles in a 29-15 loss to Alabama at the SEC Championship Game.

Also, in what is old news at this point, Antonio Callaway was cleared of any wrongdoing by the University last week. Callaway had been suspended from the team in the spring pending an investigation into a student-conduct code violation. Nevertheless, McElwain has been unclear about Callaway’s status vs. UMass in Week 1. He has been practicing with the team, however.

Most books have the Gators installed as 36-point home favorites vs. the Minutemen.

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