Anyone can engage in the debate on which running back is the best in college football, but very few people know what it's like to play against three of the very best candidates. Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor has faced FSU's Dalvin Cook, Alabama's Derrick Henry and LSU's Leonard Fournette, but even though he's seen Cook only once (last season), his mind is made up.
"Dalvin Cook is the best running back we'll play all season. Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry. Dalvin Cook is the best," Tabor said on Saturday, according to Gator Country's Nick de la Torre.
Cook must have made quite an impression on the Gators' standout sophomore cornerback with a 24-for-144 rushing performance in 2014 and in any film or highlights he's seen from Cook this season.
Tabor has twice seen Fournette, who ran 31 times for 180 yards in a win over the Gators last month. He ran 27 times for 140 yards against Florida last year as a freshman. Henry turned in a 20-for-111 day against Tabor and the Gators last year, but won't face Tabor and UF this season until the SEC Championship Game, presuming the Tide finishes the job of winning the SEC West. Henry, a junior, can apply for 2016 NFL Draft eligibility after the season as an underclassman, while Fournette and Cook, true sophomores, won't be eligible for draft entry until 2017 or 2018.
It could be a case of Tabor simply deferring to the next standout on the schedule, which would be taking a cue from an awful lot of coaches that praise upcoming opponents with too many superlatives. But you can bet the comment will make its way around the Alabama locker room in a couple of weeks, if the teams meet in the SEC title game.