The Gators will have to begin their season without two of their stars.
Florida announced that cornerback Jalen Tabor and tight end C’yontai Lewis have been suspended from all team activities immediately. In this case, “immediately” means from now until at least the first game of the season.
The reason for the suspension, according to multiple reports and sources, was that the two were involved in a fight at practice last night. It was apparently a pretty rough skirmish, with helmets flying off and punches being thrown, and that would make sense; teams get in scuffles at practice all the time, yet they’re rarely more than guys putting hands on other guys’ shoulders and pushing. But this particular fight reportedly escalated to a point where things got out of hand, and Jim McElwain drew the line.
“Both C’yontai (Lewis) 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.”
The irony of the whole thing is that team skirmishes are becoming the norm at Florida practices, a fact that running back Jordan Scarlett spun as a positive to 247Sports. The idea, per Scarlett, is that fights show that the players really get invested in what they’re doing, and show genuine care.
While Tabor is a bona fide star, he’s no stranger to stirring up trouble. He was suspended for last year’s Tennessee game for smoking marijuana, and has frequently raised eyebrows with inflammatory (read: amusing) commentary about other teams on social media. He also enjoyed an all expenses paid trip to New York City, courtesy of the University of Florida, to host his own personal media day. Oh, and let’s not forget his efforts to change his name, while we’re at it.
But both he and Lewis are about to learn that there’s just some stuff you can’t do, and while getting heated at practice may show a sense of genuine care, there’s no way a fight that escalates into a death match, or would have without intervention, is a good thing. Fights of this severity create the risk of injury, as we saw with Vernon Hargreaves a couple years back, and they turn the focus from one player being frustrated about something in general toward attacking another player.
As Mac said, both Tabor and Lewis are good guys. They just need to be taught a lesson. Hopefully, their inability to rack up statistics against an inferior UMass team will suffice.