Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd
There aren't many players that can exude confidence and back it up in today's game of football. Sure, many will talk prior to contests, but typically they're silenced by the opposing team the very next day.
That's not the case for Gators cornerback Kaiir Elam, who practices exactly what he preaches and has shown up for Florida every opportunity he gets, and those opportunities leave him feeling angry, and disrespected.
"I feel like every time I line up, I feel like the offense’s gonna come to test me," Elam said on Monday when asked about Alabama testing him during the team's loss on Saturday. "But I wouldn’t say I was surprised, but I would definitely, I get angry every time they try to throw at me, so I was pretty mad.”
Elam, a true junior with Florida, has quickly become one of the top defensive backs in the country. Against Alabama on Saturday, the Crimson Tide targetted Elam seven times, he surrendered just two receptions, giving up 36 yards and a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus.
It was an elite performance as Elam accounted for two pass breakups on the day as well. Over the course of his career at Florida, Elam has surrendered just 42.5% of passes thrown his way.
This year, he's surrendered just 40% of passes thrown his way, good for fifth-best in all of college football with a minimum of 97 coverage snaps.
Don't get it twisted, Elam wants to play football and get involved, but there's something about teams testing him that rubs him the wrong way.
“I was definitely happy I got a lot of action, but I just feel like it's disrespectful every time a team throws at me though,” he explained.
That's sort of the mindset an elite defensive back has to have. Throughout history, one that brings the confidence and backs it up on the gridiron typically is one of the best players in the country. We've seen that at Florida with cornerbacks like Joe Haden, CJ Henderson, Vernon Hargreaves, the list goes on.
Elam could be the next man up to prove his worth as he continues through what is likely his final season at Florida.
A player that will likely be his successor at the position, freshman CB Jason Marshall Jr., has impressed the junior defensive back, who says Marshall reminds him a little bit of himself.
"I think he's a great young player," said Elam. "He reminds me a little bit of myself, a bigger corner. Great ball skills. I feel like, he's still learning a lot and getting his confidence and his wings underneath him.
"But I mean, I like Jason I just want to just continue [to] keep seeing him grow, and not only himself, but myself as well.”
Elam's college football career will certainly be something to continue watching as the season moves forward. He will have plenty of opportunities, whether he feels it's disrespectful or not, to prove himself, too. All of the top corners of all time have done it, and now Elam will need to do it just the same.