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12 September 2015: Florida Gators defensive back Jalen Tabor (31) runs toward the end zone for a touchdown after intercepting a pass in the 4th quarter of the NCAA football game between the East Carolina Pirates and the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in Gainesville, FL.

Jalen Tabor has talent to live up to his own expectations

Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor has been anything but quiet this offseason. From trash talking Tennessee to speaking his mind on social issues, the junior All-American has never been afraid to express his opinion for the world to see.

He’s just as outspoken when it comes to his confidence and his abilities on the gridiron. Rightfully so, considering many believed he was the top cornerback in the Gators’ secondary last season — not Vernon Hargreaves III.

Though impressive, Tabor looks to build off that sophomore campaign in hopes of not only becoming the conference’s greatest cornerback, but also upping his stock for the 2017 NFL Draft if he elects to forego his senior season.

He took to Twitter to announce these high expectations he’s set for himself for the future.

The junior aspires to be the highest ever selected SEC corner in the Draft — higher than 2014-15 teammate Hargreaves (No. 11 pick), former Gator Joe Haden (No. 7 pick in 2010) and LSU alum Patrick Peterson (No. 5 pick in 2011).

Before he can focus on the NFL, he still has at least one more season in Gainesville. With that said, he has some pretty lofty goals for this season, too, aiming for college football’s most prestigious individual award.

The good news for Florida fans is Tabor certainly has the skill set to not only meet his own expectations this season, but exceed them.

The Washington, D.C. native possesses the physical tools to truly be a Thorpe Award winner in 2016. He’s lengthy and has exceptional ball skills, as evidenced by the five interceptions and 22 pass breakups he’s totaled through 25 games. As it stands, Tabor is just three PBUs shy of ranking in the top 10 all-time at Florida and he tied a school single-season record for interceptions returned for touchdowns (two) in 2015.

As last season progressed, opponents threw Tabor’s way less frequently than they did against his counterpart and eventual first-rounder Hargreaves. Although he didn’t have a single pass breakup or interception in either of the last three games, he still contributed by registering 15 tackles. He finished the year with 40 tackles (tied for seventh on the team), proving that he’s become just as physical and effective against the run as he is defending the pass.

Tabor also has a flair for forcing that game-changing turnover. He’s developed into a player who continuously finds himself in position to make a play.

Over the past two years, he’s become one of the more consistent corners in the SEC. His 14 pass breakups last season were the most by a Florida player in over 15 years and the fourth-most in a season in UF school history. If he gets enough targets this season, he could legitimately challenge former Gator great Keiwan Ratliff’s single-season school record of nine interceptions from 2003. Like Ratliff, Tabor has tremendous instincts and can bait quarterbacks into predictable throws. Additionally, he also has a shot at Louis Oliver’s single-season school record of 19 pass breakups from 1987.

Again, this all is only possible if opposing quarterbacks are willing to throw in Tabor’s direction this season. He has the attributes and the skills to break those records, but given his dominant history at the position, he may not have enough opportunities. That’s the only way he doesn’t live up to his own expectations.

Regardless, Tabor has already solidified himself as one of the greatest cornerbacks to don the Orange and Blue. His future first-round status in the NFL Draft will be proof of that.

Jalen Tabor has talent to live up to his own expectations

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