Jalen Tabor surprised many when he committed to Arizona at the Under Armour All-America Game a week ago. He surprised even more on Thursday when he flipped to Florida, as first reported by Scout's Bob Redman.
"I'm going to Florida now," Tabor told me in a text message. "I swear I will be there Monday." Tabor was set to enroll early at Arizona and instead will start classes at the University of Florida when he arrives and be able to participate in spring practice.
Rivals' Blake Alderman confirmed the commitment and Scout's report that Tabor will enroll on Monday with his own report ($), one in which Tabor, from Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C., cites distance from home and opportunity as reasons he flipped to Florida.
Tabor, ranked 24th nationally by the 247Composite rankings, becomes Florida's fourth current 247Composite five-star recruit, joining Gerald Willis, Ermon Lane, and Will Grier.
With Lane's commitment seeming very shaky in the wake of good friend Dalvin Cook's flip from Florida to Florida State, the Gators could be down to three five-stars by or on National Signing Day ... but they're also still in it for a few other big names that remain uncommitted.
And Tabor is also a major get at a position of need, and may be the five-star in that constellation most likely to play in 2014. Tabor will be immediately thrown into the mix at the cornerback spot opposite the one Vernon Hargreaves III is a mortal lock to occupy in 2014 and 2015, barring injury, and he, Nick Washington, Brian Poole, fellow Florida early enrollee Duke Dawson, and fellow Florida commits J.C. Jackson, Chris Lammons, and Quincy Wilson would all battle it out for a starting position.
Washington and Poole would seem to have an edge on Tabor thanks to their experience, but Washington had shoulder surgery in the fall, and Poole fits well at nickel corner; Tabor might well establish himself as a starting corner if he acclimates well at spring practice, a prospect that might lead to Lammons (who has been talking to South Carolina and Wisconsin for months) and/or Jackson (who has been flirting with Florida State and Miami) leaving Florida's class. Wilson, as you may have noticed if you have ever been on Twitter, is rock-solid to Florida.
Tabor has connections to former Florida great Joe Haden, and was originally following Jonathan Haden in committing to Arizona; now, he sounds like he's ready to fill big brother's shoes instead.
Following In Big Cuz Footsteps @joehaden23 ! Wearing #5— #⃣1⃣ (@HesSuchATEEZ) January 9, 2014
Tabor is also the seventh early enrollee for Florida's 2014 class, joining Grier, Dawson, Taven Bryan, Deandre Goolsby, Nolan Kelleher, and fellow late flip Kavaris Harkless. JUCO tackle Drew Sarvary is also a mid-year enrollee.
With Tabor's addition, it is clear that, despite losing NFL Draft picks at every position over the last two years, Florida's no-fly zone is likely to be fully armed and operational as long as Will Muschamp, the mastermind behind it, and Travaris Robinson, the apprentice who kills it on the recruiting trail, are working together to assemble and maintain it.