Northside cornerback Elijah Tabut knows he has the physical tools to flourish at that position.
Over the course of the off-season, he has been concentrating on the mental aspect, which is a very important trait in one becoming more of a tremendous all-around cornerback.
"I would say (I've been working on) my mindset," Tabut, a returning starter at cornerback who is entering his senior season with the Grizzlies, said. "I'm really mature in like knowing my coverages and knowing what I've got to do. I would also say (I've worked on) my footwork; I've been working a lot on it this past year."
Tabut, who registered 46 tackles last season, is also completely healthy after dealing with hamstring issues since he was a sophomore.
"I was battling that in track this year," Tabut said. "I was running the 100 meter and it just messed up on me.
"So during the spring, I had to miss out on a lot (of football workouts) and really, I'm 100 percent now; I'm ready to play."
The Grizzlies' coaching staff is just as thrilled Tabut will be good to go as Northside begins its 2018 season at home Friday against Rogers Heritage.
"He's completely healthy now and this summer, Elijah's a high 4.4 or low 4.5 40 (yard dash) type of kid, 37 (inches) on his vertical. ... In the last month or so, he's just become a tremendous man-to-man player," Northside defensive coordinator Felix Curry said.
Curry added he is confident Tabut can really be more of a shutdown corner.
"I would be shocked if people try his side. ... It's going to be tough to catch a ball on his side, and I just expect him to be a solid guy and able to really just kind of shut down that side of the field passing-wise," Curry said.
"He's as solid a corner as anybody."
Northside coach Mike Falleur chimed in that Tabut (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) is even more physical entering his senior season.
"He's gotten stronger and he's really good in man-to-man coverage and he's a good tackler, so I just think he can continue to improve himself physically that has made him into a really good player," Falleur said.
Tabut, who has seen action since his sophomore season, is part of an experienced secondary for the Grizzlies, which also includes fellow senior and cornerback Tyriq Adams and another senior, safety Greg Washington. All three have been teammates since they attended Kimmons Junior High.
"We work amazing together," Tabut said. "We've been playing together since eighth grade and we just know each other; we know how each other plays.
"We just have each other's back through everything, and it's crazy how close we've gotten the past few years and how we know how each other plays and how each other works, and we just build up each other a lot."
Tabut also carries a 3.7 grade-point average, and knows that will enhance his value even more with college recruiters. He has received interest from several DI schools.
"He does everything the right way, his grades are great, he has great character, he works hard," Falleur said. "He's got a good personality. ... He's one of those guys that you are glad as all get-out that he's on your football team."
Tabut, who enjoys hiking and jogging in his spare time, is the oldest of five children. He has a younger brother, Jeremiah, who is a junior outside linebacker for the Grizzlies.
While working on his mental approach all off-season, Elijah Tabut is focusing on a different mentality: Helping the Grizzlies break through to the next level after reaching the 7A quarterfinals each of the past two seasons.
"Really, the mindset has been to build on what we had going on last year and try to make it to state and try to build up each other and make each other better," he said.
"(Our focus is) just for everyone to buy in and for everyone to know the end goal is to win state. That's what really will get us to last longer than last year."