Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor and backup tight end C’yontai Lewis were involved in a serious practice fight Tuesday that led to their suspensions from team activities and the season opener against Massachusetts.
Coach Jim McElwain announced the suspensions Wednesday.
Sources tell GN that there was a fight at practice between Lewis and Tabor that escalated beyond a typical practice sparring session. Tabor appears to have crossed the line by swinging his helmet and ended up the worst for it.
From a practical standpoint, Lewis and Tabor hardly will be missed against a bad UMass team. But given Tabor's status, it definitely hurts from a public-perception standpoint. His suspension means Florida's best players on each side of the ball – he and wide receiver Antonio Callaway – have been in trouble this offseason.
Callaway, who was suspended from the team for almost seven months, recently was cleared in a student conduct hearing after he was accused of sexual assault in December
"Both C'yontai and Jalen will not be involved with the team or practice due to behavior that is not acceptable," McElwain said in a statement released by the school. "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."
McElwain further said "there are life lessons in everything we do."
Tabor's absence leaves a starting spot opposite junior Quincy Wilson for the opener. JC transfer Joseph Putu and true freshman McArthur Burnett are possibilities to start in Tabor's stead. Duke Dawson is another possibility, but he seems entrenched at nickelback.
UMass figures to air it out. The Minutemen attempted 495 passes last season, 21st-most in the nation. But UMass lost its starting quarterback and its top five receivers; no receiver on the roster caught more than 15 passes last season.
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
© 2016, Mike Huguenin. All rights reserved.
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