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April 18, 2012
As one of the top players from the class of 2014, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate cornerback Jalen Tabor is already talking about his legacy and looking at ways to boost his stock.
His decision to participate in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June is a chance to help accomplish both.
"I am fired up to go against the top kids in the country," he said. "I can prove that I am the best at my position. I can prove that Tabor is the guy to get in 2014."
The invitation-only camp will be held at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta on June 22-24 and the 6-foot-1 Tabor expects to rise above his measurables.
"I expect to come in and perform better than advertised," he said. "I want people to leave there saying to watch out for that kid. I want them to see me make jaw-dropping plays.
"I gamble a lot and it is high-risk for high-reward with me."
His highlight-reel plays aside, Tabor's ability to make the spectacular look routine drew the attention of college scouts, with nearly 20 schools offering right now. Tabor says that he truly appreciates all of the schools that have taken time to recruit him early in the process.
He also says that it is helping him become the next young star in Washington, D.C.
"I looked up to [former Olney (Md.) Good Counsel five-star linebacker] Jelani Jenkins, [former four-star receiver] Kenny Tate from [Hyattsville (Md.)] DeMatha, and [former four-star cornerback] Louis Young from Good Counsel," Tabor said. "Having kids see me do well is important.
"I want little kids in D.C. to say, 'I want to be like Tabor' and I want them to ask, 'Did you see what Tabor did last game?'."
But he also wants to have people respect what he does off the field, saying that being a good person is an important message to deliver.
"I think that being a good person off the field will help you be a better player on it," he said. "It is important as a man to have good core values: to never quit, to work hard and to keep your work in order."
It is a message that he not only says with conviction, but also puts into action. Tabor volunteers his time by helping at his coach's non-profit organization, helping with kids by teaching football and life skills at an annual football camp.
The time he spends giving back, he says, helps keep him level.
"We are all a tight-knit community here and everyone knows everyone," he said. "It is real important growing up to have good role models and to work hard to be the best. I hope that I can be the best and show people what hard work it takes to get there."
His showing at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge will be the biggest offseason stage he can get.
"It will be huge," he said. "My mindset is to go out and leave my mark and elevate myself onto the national level."
Mike Farrell's take
Tabor has been hitting the camp circuit since he was an eighth grader so he won't be intimidated going against older players. Also, he will be playing his natural safety position rather than having to line up as a cornerback. His versatility on offense could help his team as he has been a standout wide receiver at every event. One of the top 2014 prospects on the East Coast, Tabor has confidence and won't be afraid to step up and be a leader despite being one of the younger players at the event.