Florida defensive back Jalen Tabor rises his arms to fans as they cheer during the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico State, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux
August 21, 2016

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida coach Jim McElwain insists he has no problem with anything star cornerback Jalen Tabor's says off the field, even if it's a little controversial.

What Tabor does on the field is a different story.

McElwain suspended Tabor and tight end C'yontai Lewis on Wednesday, saying neither will play in the team's season opener against UMass. McElwain did not say what prompted the suspensions. But a person familiar with the situation said Tabor and Lewis are being punished for fighting in practice. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because McElwain has not revealed the reason behind the suspensions.

''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. ''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.''

Tabor was suspended one game last season for violating University Athletic Association policy. He openly criticized the UAA on Twitter for its decision and later apologized.

''I'm me,'' Tabor said at Florida's media day earlier this month. ''I'm going to be honest. What you see is what you get. Sometimes (it gets me in trouble). If you ain't being you ... if you ain't living for nothing, you'll die for anything. That's how I see it.''

Tabor raised eyebrows again last week when he predicted on national television that the Gators would beat Tennessee for the 11th consecutive time next month.

''I love the guy,'' McElwain said the following day. ''He's a guy who cares. He's a guy who has really invested in himself. I think he's grown up immensely as far as how he's going about his business.''

McElwain said he didn't see Tabor's interview with ESPN's Paul Finebaum. When told what Tabor said, McElwain defended his player even further.

''I like the aggressive attitude,'' McElwain said. ''In fact, I wish our whole team in some spots had that same self-confidence because of their work. And he's put in the work. ... It will make for a good read, it will give you guys something to write about. At the end of the day, that's so far down the road, we'll jump that when we get there.

''I'm not into censorship, OK? At the same time, I'm not into giving guys bulletin-board material, but you can take that statement however you choose to take it. I'm sure they'll put it up and blast it all over the world. Way to go. There's a pretty good chance we'll show up in Knoxville.''

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Online: AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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