UF freshman player arrested, suspended from team activities

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East Ridge's Justin Watkins (1) makes a kick return at the Under Armour All-America Game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. [PAUL RYAN /CORRESPONDENT]

[Updated: 3 p.m., 7-25-18] Florida freshman football player Justin Watkins was booked on four charges Tuesday, including two felony charges, according to Alachua County court records.

Watkins was charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery and two third-degree felonies — false imprisonment of an adult and domestic battery by strangulation, according to court records.

Watkins, 19, remained in the Alachua County jail Wednesday in lieu of a $40,000 bond at the time of publication. He appeared in court Wednesday morning. Ron Kozlowski has not yet been retained as counsel as we previously reported. The Watkins family is still weighing legal options.

UF sports information director Steve McClain said UF coach Dan Mullen has suspended Watkins from all team activities.

A University of Florida Police Department arrest report gives the following account of the crime:

On the late afternoon of July 20, police say Watkins struck his 18-year-old girlfriend with an open and closed fist on both sides of her head and on her shoulders while holding her down on a dorm room bed.

He got on top of her, pinning her to the bed again, the report says, wrapped his hands around her neck and choked her three times, once for 15 seconds and twice for about eight seconds.

Police say Watkins knew that she has asthma.

Police say he confined her to the room by standing in the doorway and blocking the exit.

She said, “I want to leave,” and, “Get out of the way,” the report says. When she tried to leave, he grabbed her hair and belt, yanking her back into the room.

The girlfriend sprayed mace in his face and fled, the report says. He chased her out the door and down the stairs. Police said he threw a wooden brush, hitting her left hand, and a container of hair grease that also struck her hand.

It’s the second time in three months Watkins has found himself charged with a crime involving a female victim.

Watkins was arrested in Ocala in May for allegedly breaking a woman’s phone and kicking her car. The police report indicated Watkins then followed the woman to Vanguard High School, where he was not a student, and continued kicking her car. Watkins was subsequently charged for trespassing on school grounds.

Watkins, a former four-star prospect out of East Ridge High in Clermont, enrolled at Florida in June for the Summer B semester. He was expected to contribute as a cornerback and on special teams.

Mullen said at last week’s SEC Media Days that behavior accountability is something the team talks about every day.

“Every day we talk about decision making — how that decision is going to affect you, how it affects your teammates, how does it affect your family, how does it affect our football program?” Mullen said.

“Stick up and look out for each other as a team. That’s a huge thing. If your actions are not helping us achieve those goals, we need to reevaluate your actions.”

108 COMMENTS

    • Good grief. I could say a lot, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin. The kid is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but if he is, he needs to be gone. The big picture question is, more or less, “where do we keep going from here?” I feel like 50 years from now this sport is going to plaved competitively on EA Sports or Madden instead of on the field. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times, or if our conferences are gonna end up with flag football teams full of international astrophysics majors. Even then, they could still find their way into trouble. What a mess.

      • Going to be interesting to see how Mullen handles this considering he allowed 5* Jeffery Simmons to not only enroll at MSU, but only miss the first game after he was caught on video punching a girl about 5 or 6 times while she was on the ground. Maybe he’ll be a little more strict about that here than he was there considering they don’t see 5* talent very often.

    • Tampa Gator: IF ONLY–you could put about $1 million in front of this kid and say: “This is yours if you fly right and be a man at Florida and get your education.” Or, put $30 million in front of him and say : “This is yours if you fly right and be a man at Florida and get drafted in the NFL.” But no. So many young athletes can only see straight ahead. How can we make them see all the side streets that turn into a pot of gold. It makes me shake my head too. Maybe Florida needs to teach a class to all incoming freshmen: “How to ruin your opportunity or how to seize your opportunity. I am shaking my head in amazement and flabbergasted and disgusted. Your comment is spot on!

    • I don’t remember who I had the discussion with, but I used logic in discussing this young man and I stated that he was bad news by his actions. I also commented about his up bringing and it looks as though I was right on again. There are actions that people take that flash a huge RED FLAG. These individuals cannot be changed as it is in their behavioral DNA. Much like a pedophile will never change no matter how much goes into rehab. But we can look on the bright side in that it didn’t cost UF and money, and they got rid of him before he even played one down. Now we have an extra spot for next year. GO GATORS!!!

      • Not to make light of the human tragedy and possible loss of human potential here, but too bad we can’t trade him to FSU for a future first round draft pick next year.

        You did call it back in May at that.

        • Gator-6, it is a shame that many young people don’t get raised properly. Maybe schools need to put life in their curriculum and how to treat others. Accountability for one’s actions needs to be established early in life. I was spanked when I messed up, and I learned at an early age how to act. What really needs to happen is all kids should have to watch those crime shows and see what happens in real life when someone does something that puts them in prison for life. When I was 10 or 11 we had a school trip to a local jail and got to see what it was like. Not much is worth losing your freedom over. Let us hope that this doesn’t happen with any frequency. GO GATORS!!!

    • Clyde. I just hope the lady is OK, and this will be the first and last idiotic choice by a Florida football player for multiple years to come. Florida and Gator Nation just does not need this idiotic and criminal behavior from a player after last summer’s notorious 11. And I am sure (if he is found guilty) that Florida has a zero tolerance policy for this act, as I think the entire SEC does as well.

    • I don’t think Mullen needs to wait until the verdict. As soon as he gathers the necessary info he needs to make the right decision.

      • TJ-Gators. My initial reaction above was just that, and I jumped to the immediate conclusion that he should be gone. I forgot one thing. In this country, one is innocent until proven guilty. If he is found guilty, Mullen will not have to make a decision. It will be made or him. If he is found innocent or the charges are dismissed, the kid should seek out professional help and guidance with the help of the football program, be he ever plays a down for the Gators or not. And I doubt he will…play a down of football for the Gators, that is.

  1. I’m a big believer in second chances in life but I 100% agree that this young man’s second chances need to come somewhere else. UF does NOT need this kind of person on campus or in Gainesville. We’ll be just fine without him.

  2. Watkins must live with his choices. He was, at best, a back-up among a host of excellent DBs. Hope he gets his act together. I believe CeCe Jefferson should have a man-to-boy talk with this kid and tell him this is the UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, not Podunk U. and if he wants to get anything out of his time in Gainesville, straighten up, take you punishment and commit to representing the school and be the best many you can be–on and off the field. Watkins is only 1 of 79 players on the current roster, so none of this “Here it goes again” talk. At least at Florida they suspend players pending the facts, unlike the Free Shoes U. where Winston received NOTHING for his numerous transgressions.

    • Too late for anyone, except a judge rendering a sentence, to talk to him.

      Sadly, in the whole scheme of the university, he took the place of someone more academically qualified.

  3. Mullen is from the Meyer tree and appears that Stricklin isn’t too far off based on their history with players. If this was a 5-Star recruit I garuntee he would still be on the team. All I need to do is direct you towards the Jeffrey Simmons story at Miss St. he was Mullen’s loan 5-Star recruit and there is video of him beating a woman in the street. Mullen and stricklin felt a one game suspension for this man was the best way to teach him domestic violence is wrong. He’s still playing today. Look up the video on YouTube. I guess Watkins wasn’t good enough to get that kind of discipline. The Urban Meyer/Dan Mullen/Scott Stricklin school of discipline.

    • Tom C. Simmons has turned his life completely around. And not just on the football field. The direction Mullen and Stricklin took concerning Simmons turned out to be a very wise one. And I believe the woman he physically assaulted has also forgiven him because of the way he has turned his life around. Make Watkins can do the same. But probably not at the University of Florida.

    • Tom C. – Watkins was a 4 star recruit so if your premise holds true Mullen will give him the kid gloves treatment. I don’t think that will be the case. I think Coach and the AD will do the right thing for both the University and Mr. Watkins.

      Don’t jump all over me guys because I am NOT defending Urban Meyer but I sense with many of these college coaches (including Meyer), it is not only just wins and losses (and big contracts). Sure, that is the first priority, but I really believe that many of these coaches care about these young men. And given the background of many of the top recruits, where strong male authority figures are in short supply in these young men’s lives, the coaches I think, sort of take on a surrogate father role when they see the need. So, in really trying to help these guys, not just in making it to the NFL, but making it with a successful life, they hate to just cut the guy loose knowing that this may be the guys only or best chance at making positive changes in his life.

      I get that. But, criminal behavior ….. is criminal behavior and bringing that onto a college campus just doesn’t mix. The very sad thing is, many of the top athletic guys really have no business being on a campus of higher education. Their calling is sports and not sitting in an Economics class with Professor Denslow. So how should society handle that dilemna?

  4. Hate to say this would happen again , but it did. I’ve seen a lot of different behaviors in 17 years of teaching and unfortunately this one repeated itself and in a worst way. This was my comment back in May.

    May 11, 2018 at 8:30 am
    I am speaking as a high school teacher of 17 years. From 2001 to now I have seen a shift for the worst in children’s lack of responsibility. The more we try help the students prepare to become productive members of society the more we get comments like ” we are tripping” or “we do too much”. I tell them that it is my job to do “too much”. They don’t want to take responsibility for anything. Early childhood is the most important stage in any child’s development. If their life is chaotic during that stage that will set them up for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t matter what socioeconomic background you come from. Sometimes money just hides how chaotic a child’s life is. I hope this student athlete learns from his mistake, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he repeats this mistake or worst. Not trying to preach doom and gloom, it’s just fact and reality of today’s youth from the trenches. Go Gators.

    • PRGator. I hope you have retired from teaching. Some kids are that way. Most are not. But I know it can be terribly frustrating dealing with those that are that way if you are a teacher. But dealing with them is the job of a teacher. To teach is to mold, to build, to model, to challenge, to persuade, to educate. Not everyone can be saved. But many can be. Especially if they have terrific teachers in their lives. Just my perspective, sir.

      • TampaGator,
        Did you see my second post? I made the comment that he needs help, not jail, just like you. The comment about me retiring was a little much. I’m in it for the long haul, 30 years plus. Just making an observation, I’ve seen more kids succeed than not from worst situations than Mr. Watkins. Eight years of teaching is a good amount of time to make observations, but not enough. All that time I have tutored and molded student athletes (Jahleel Addae, Orson Charles)but most succeed in other places besides football. Mr. Watkins does need help and I hope he gets it.

        • PRGator. I posted the response before reading your second post, which you seemingly took a step back from your original comments. I actually did the same after my first, emotionally-driven response to what the kid supposedly did to a female. But you made a lot of generalizations about today’s youth in your first post, which seemed strange coming from a teacher. And you then said you would not be surprised if mistakes are repeated. As a teacher, you should know that maturing youth generally repeat mistakes and learn and mature from those mistakes, some more severe than others, unfortunately. And, hopefully, this kid’s life will not be ruined by this horrible mistake, if he indeed committed it, and he can grow from his severe mistake and become a productive member of society, as Simmons did at Mississippi State when Mullen gave him a second chance instead of dumping him into a gutter to waste away. I would be very interested to know if Watkins behavioral records in school contain a lot of behavioral concerns driven by emotional responses. And did he receive any help on the way to here? Or is his behavior just recent? And did he suffer a lot of concussions while playing football in high school? We know that such can lead to irrational behavior. If so, this kid needs professional and medical help. And he does not need to be playing football ever again.

          • TampaGator,
            You are right, you don’t know what kind of teacher I am. I’ve won awards for being a nurturing caring teacher. I am not making generalizations, I am stating facts. I have gotten burned a few times for caring too much but it hasn’t stop me from continuing to care whether I get results or not, that is my life. Again eight years in the classroom does not make you an expert. Your word is not the be all end all. Failure is the greatest teacher and I hope Mr. Watkins gets help. Moving on.

          • PRGator. I am not a teacher. Never been a teacher. But I have been a parent of teenagers in high school (Plant High). And I have an idea of what a good teacher is or is not. But you are right. I have no idea what kind of teacher you are. But I can tell you that kids are no worse or better than kids from years ago (my kids for example). They are just different. And times are different. Maybe you should just consider that more when you are teaching, and I will leave it at that.

    • PRGator – First, thank you for your dedication to teaching. I’ve had some great teachers in my time (and a few not so great) and most were dedicated to “teaching” and certainly weren’t in it for the money or glory. May God bless you.

      Second, and maybe unrelated to your post, I think that in today’s world we are placing too much blame on teachers when kids fail to get educated. And yes, some less than great teachers should be held accountable for doing a poor job. But I’d submit that in most cases, a great teacher can only succeed if they have students that are willing to learn or students who can be reached by teaching greatness. As I see it, the biggest failure when a kid doesn’t get educated is at home. When a kid doesn’t have a good support system at home, even a great teacher will struggle to reach the kid. When athletic achievement is more important at home than academic achievement…… well guess who will have more impact on the kid, a coach or a teacher.

      Teachers and Coaches are important. Parents and Family Support is more important.

      • Rog,
        Thanks for the comment. Craziest thing I had to do this year was go and pick up students personally and sometimes with police escort at their homes so they can come to school and take their state mandated test. Some resisted but most realized that if I was willing to take time out of my own life to help them, that maybe they do matter to someone and that they should help themselves. That is the biggest hurdle, helping themselves and letting someone else help them stay on track.

      • Thanks also. My daughter is a teacher. My son taught at Raines High School here in Jax before going to law school. People today are quick to blame, and usually the person who last touched them–often teachers and coaches. Kids have been living their whole lives with whatever family and friends or good/bad acquaintances they have. We are all a product of our environment and the leaders in our life. I hope this kid gets the leadership he needs the hard way thru the Justice system and the directional way thru his family and coaches. I hope he doesn’t adopt some BS excuse and blame everyone else but himself for his choices. People out there will want to blame Mullen for recruiting this kid. They will compare him to Urban Meyer and say “they recruit thugs” But that’s easy for us to say after the fact with the benefit of hindsight bias. Predicting future behavior in human beings is more art than science. Criminologists have a hard time with it, much less coaches. I suspect the State Attorney will accept a lesser plea, put him on probation and Watkins will not be in a position to do anything with the team this year. It will give him time to prove himself and make a change. If not, let him go . If so, all the better for him.

      • Rog. I have no idea what kind of teacher the person posting on here is. But I do know that the posted view of today’s kids is not a view educators would approve of or expect in a classroom or outside of one. I salute the good cops in our world. But there are bad cops out there that let their personal views and judgments get in the way of doing their jobs the right and productive way. There are also good teachers who deserve our recognition and respect. But, like cops, there are bad teachers out there who should not be teaching because of their personal views and judgments of children, and who have let their hearts be hardened by them. I salute the good teachers who love and nurture kids, both the troubled and the non troubled ones. And the teachers who do not judge and make generalizations about young people they are hired to educate, regardless of their circumstances and behavior. They just lead and model for the good of all students, and they deal effectively and professionally with the troubled students (as cops should). Just my perspective. And anyone is free to disagree with it or condemn it. I can emotionally and intellectually handle either response.

  5. He needs help and I hope he has family and friends and maybe someone at UF that can get him the help he needs. He needs to get away from the football field as far as possible and find a way to set his priorities straight. Maybe take his talents to a Division II or III, maybe it will humble him, if he even gets another chance.

    • If it all plays out as charged, and I don’t see any reason why it won’t, I agree that he needs help. But first he need consequences, and they ought be adverse enough so as to activate the fear-of-further-confinement drive state. Then the “help” has a better chance of success.

      By the way PR, I don’t know if anyone has ever thanked you for taking on the job of teacher, but I’d like to. Your post of 11 May 18 is sobering.

      • Gator-6
        I appreciate the thanks. Apparently someone thinks I need to retire. I am
        only half way though, going to keep molding young minds until my mind tells me I cannot. Take care.

        • You keep on PR, I don’t think anyone has any idea of what sacrifices are made by teachers unless they are one themselves or are married to one. Beside, like the Army, you don’t figure the whole ball of wax out until 17-20 years of dealing with it, so why retire then when your best years are still ahead of you?

          Appreciate your take on things, my fellow Gator……….37 days until it’s Go Gators time again!

  6. I too believe in 2nd chances if the circumstances would allow for it. Based on what happened earlier this spring, he was already on his 2nd chance. I my view, gather the facts, but there is no need or requirement to wait for the legal process on this one. Send him home permanently. If nothing else, it will establish the “No Nonsense” rules of this new staff, and the other 78 players will take note. Too bad; I hope this is an isolated incident.

    • I think you just summed it all up rather nicely, Dan, when you said, “Too bad”. We’ll do a little more hand wringing for a while, we’ll lament once again the human tragedy of it all, and voice our opinions…….but pretty soon we’ll have other fish to fry. Hope this is a one-off too, bud.

      • Thanks for your feedback “6”. I do say “too bad” because it is a shame and tragedy when young people have such a great opportunity in front of them for a top notch education and athletic achievement and they waste it away on such poor choices. As you said, we both hope that this is a one off occurrence, but we both know that this happens way too often on campuses all over the country and will continue to do so. That said, I pray that the UF coaches will not let this failure deter them from preaching the message of personal accountability to the team. It will stick in most players!

  7. “It’s the second time in three months Watkins has found himself charged with a crime involving a female victim.”

    Lock him up!…Lock him up! No excuses especially attacking a “female.” Ask Spurrier. SOS always said you’re off the team when doing this no matter how good you are. What a thug this guy must be. This clown already had his second chance.

    • DFF. This country does not send people to prison for being charged with a crime. This kid apparently needs professional help and guidance, not jail. Not yet anyway.

  8. Every, friggin year it seems. Of course, at fsu or Miami, he’d be promoted to starter. Lol

    Kid obviously has a massive temper problem and it has no place at UF.

    This is a classic two strikes and you’re out case. He should be gone as of yesterday, adios, c’ya, bye bye.

    • Todd. Justin Watkins has been charged twice. He has not been convicted of anything yet. If he is convicted in either case, he should not be a part of the team or a student at UF. For now, we need to wait on Lady Justice to have her say in this and the previous matter. And she will.

      • Tampa, lady justice doesn’t apply to a football team. You’re conflating two separate issues. Yes, he gets his day in court, but that doesn’t mean he gets to continue playing football at UF, even if found innocent in a court of law.

        • I would agree with this Buffalo, a football team makes its own decisions and so Mullen should, based on their own investigation! i dont believe they should wait on the slow tempo of the justice system. If Mullen finds it credible , kicking him off the team will send a LOUD signal to all the other players!

          • Buffalo and daz. He is already suspended from the team, based solely off of his felony arrest. A decision to kick him off the team permanently and also likely off the UF campus will come after Lady Justice has spoken. That will not happen until the later happens. They are two separate issues and one impacts the other accordingly. But Mullen and the UF administration certainly have the right to kick him out of the football program before that do to behavior detrimental to the team, which this certainly could be viewed as such.

        • Exactly so! Criminals often skate when they beat the system. If he is innocent, I am sure he will be able to play elsewhere (heck, if he’s guilty he will still have a host of offers – FSU anyone?). Mullen needs to handle this swiftly and without waffling. The time is long past when any athletic program needs to tolerate (or enable) men who abuse women.

          • Trooper. He has not been found guilty of abusing a woman. He has only been charged with such. Big difference. And the suspension from all team activities immediately addressed the later. And I am sure Mullen will wait on the state’s attorney’s investigation to take the next step. But I doubt Watkins ever plays a down for Mullen or attends another class on the UF campus.

    • Joel. You do not know if any of those things are true about Watkins. Not yet anyway. But one could fairly assuredly assume that Watkins is immature and lacks control of his emotions; and he regularly makes horrible life choices as a result. And he is in some serious trouble if convicted of this last charge against him. And that is all it is right now. A charge.

  9. This is textbook fragility that the program needs to overcome before we start talking about championships imo. the thing to remember is we still have a couple of credit card guys left, and while there are no guarantees one transgression will become two, I continue to contend we should put these players in a high risk category which means fewer reps, even if the player getting the bulk of the reps is not as good, so we have one reliably ready to go for sure just in case. what I’m trying to say is the team must cover the downside first in these higher risk situations.
    As far as any player who is in this kind of trouble, the gators need to be prepared to be without him and let the justice system, and the university officials take over. I am against influence of any kind in the courts, sorry coach Galen Hall (who I really liked and hated the hard choice he had to make), from the athletic dept. going forward. I hated coach hall having to move on but that process ended well as coach spurrier was successful with the team you built. Not having a replacement player ready to go when troubles hit had a lot to do with the last ten years not working out imo. obviously we need to make sure anyone that is wronged has been treated properly, as our own tolerance did contribute to the risk of the situation.
    One last thing Mr. Watkins, its looking obvious you will be a better fit at the University of Georgia and encourage the gators recognize the mistake we have made and do what can be done to correct it. as always, you can prove me wrong, please do, but you have to prove it, no special leniency for your own sake, same for the high risk players.
    If later in life, if you have been a true gator, and things get tough, by all means, we should do what we can for you. but this is not the kind of situation that the helping hand is for.

  10. Nothing makes a man loose his cool faster than a woman, obviously he has severe temper issues for whatever reason. Too emotional, and not mature enough to handle real life issues. His best bet is to apologise to the young lady and her family, and pray charges are dropped. He’s probably done at Florida. All that hard training thrown away. Mullen hire me as the football team counselor, first thing I’d do is take them to family court for a week.

  11. Get that degenerate criminal off of our campus now. If we’re to me a preeminent University this criminality can not be allowd. Expelled effectively immediately.

  12. Good, upstanding innocent people don’t get themselves arrested multiple times in several months for similar actions. They certainly don’t stalk someone or follow them around when they have an opportunity to walk away. Non-athlete students are held to a high standard especially at UF. Players should be held to no less of a standard. He appears to be a cancer. If you are to turn your life around, what better way to do it than join a football family, receive free tuition to a big time highly rated academic institution, receive room and board, and be surrounded by positive influences like Dan Mullen? I believe in second chances but those chances have to be earned, and it looks like he is not interested in earning them. He is an adult and needs to behave like one. This is not a misguided six year old making the decision to eat cake instead of green beans. Move on and someone else will step up and seize the moment.

  13. Kick him off the team. Boot him. No recourse. He’s already shown a pattern of behavior that is unacceptable.

  14. Watkins does not need to be found guilty to have his privileges of playing college football at UF revoked. I am guessing this not some kind of elaborate conspiracy against him and he can have a second (well third) chance somewhere else… just not at UF.

  15. The kid has problems. Yes must face the consequences, but he obviously needs psychological help. Every coach looks at a kid and wants him to be successful and the coach thinks he can help him to become a better person. Sometimes things do not turn out the way they had hoped.

  16. One thing I do believe in, jaded as I am by too much time in and around corrections, is that it is rarely too late to be what you might have been. Or, who you might have been. Of course, we want that to be sooner than later, but it’s a matter of fact that the proverbial head doesn’t come out of the 4th point of contact until it’s damn good and ready to, consequences or not, psychotherapy or not, or best wishes or not. In the words of my old platoon sergeant in a very nasty place, “Son, stuff just be’s that-a-way”.

    In the meantime, we’ve got one eruption behind us now and let’s hope this is it for the season, God willing.

    • Balls of the feet, calf, thigh, 4th point buttocks (Forrest Gump). The mentality now that everyone gets a prize and no one is accountable really is worrying not just in football. Our parents said we had it easy. I am sure their parents did too. But if parents or lack of don’t hold young people accountable they do what they have learned from sources that are not good examples. Say what you want but a correction (swift kick in the 4th point of contact) as a young man this wouldn’t be an issue. Lack of any moral code or compass. I don’t like the idea of not giving someone a chance to make amends. But from my observations the success stories are far outnumbered by the failures. Great uncle went to prison in the mid 40’s for something that today wouldn’t rate a day in jail. (petty theft) Evidently in his time it was rough. He came out a changed man. I only met him once or twice but he told me he never crossed the law again.

  17. There is so much that could be said here. Poor examples growing up, bad childhood, etc, some behaviors are not sure of term difficult to change. When these behaviors are violent the punishments need to be more absolute. While it is sad to think the individuals are cast off. It is also not fair to have more victims while the individual is learning that these behaviors are not acceptable. Some of you here are vets. Violence on battlefield and training is focused on job at hand not on non combatants. That transition is difficult and a different topic. Watkins has issues that he needs to address. Not as a player for any school as it would be saying its ok somewhere else. We all have dreams. If your actions are counter to what is accepted then there should be consequences. Called accountability something Mullen has started. This is if he is found guilty. In the mean time immediate suspension. From what has been reported this is his second offense. They need to check with his part to see if this is a long term behavior. UF doesn’t need a player with poor moral fiber.

    • past not part. While also agree that being found guilty is as the law goes the proof in the pudding. I also think that his behavior is suspect whether there is a conviction or not. Sometimes through pressure people don’t want to press charges. Doesn’t mean the aggressor isn’t guilty there were just uncooperative individuals that lead to a dismissal. As a young man returning home for a visit there was a car with a flat tire. I was at a stop sign and the couple with the car were arguing. It was at a 4 way stop on a country road in Ocala area. The guy punched the woman in the stomach and dropped her to the ground. She got up and he did it again. I pulled over and asked if I could help. He told me to mind my own business and punched her again. I put him on the ground and told him to stay there. He got up came at me and I put him on the ground again. I was asking the woman if she was ok when for a third time he got up. This time I put him down with more pain involved on his part and told him if he got up I was going to break something. I asked the young lady if she wanted a ride to the Sheriff’s dept. and she agreed. This was before cell phones. I drove her to town and she jumped out at the first traffic light I stopped at in town. I always wondered if she went back. I have sisters and wouldn’t want anything to happed to them. That was over 30 years ago and of all the things my memory has lost I still remember that day.

      • Always move toward the sound of the gun fire, never walk away from doing the right thing. Airborne!

        It’s a good thing they don’t apply the UCMJ to his case……I have a likewise vivid memory of talking with a panel member once who told me, “Hell yes we found him guilty — you wouldn’t have court martialed him if he wasn’t, would you?”. Ahhh….the good old days, huh?

  18. Hope the young lady is not physically hurt & can recover fully mentally. Thank God she had mace & could defend herself.

    If guilty of these charge, Watkins needs to spend time in prison. Certainly does not need to be at UF imo. We’ll see what happens with charges & investigation.

    • jig8or. Yes, let’s make yet another 17-year-old another hardened criminal by sending him to prison. Not. How about we get him the desperate help he needs, if he indeed committed this horrible act against a woman. And get her the help she needs as well. Neither need to suffer for life as a result of this.

  19. There are folks here confusing innocent before proven guilty in a criminal setting versus a completely different standard when it comes to other area’s in life. UF does not have to wait until he is proven guilty by a reasonable doubt in a court of law to take action. There are guidelines in place for behavior regardless of the actual criminal outcome.

    The NFL will often step in with a suspension even if a victim refuses to testify in the criminal investigation and there is never a finding of guilt or innocence.

    He has due process rights within the University system but they are not the same as his constitutional due process rights for criminal prosecution. UF may wait until prosecution is complete but are in no way restricted. They can kick you out for cheating and that is not illegal in the criminal world.

    This incident in a vacuum I would say its possible it’s a he said/she said. However, it’s at least the second known event that has similar tendencies. My guess is that he is gone before fall starts.

    • Pompano Gator. The committee on student behavior will determine if he is gone or stays as a student on campus or not. Mullen and/or the UF administration will determine if he will have the opportunity to play football at UF again, but only if the committee lets him stay on campus. Neither is dependent on the justice system, but both often work off of it. The committee can, if the student is found innocent, still recommend the dismissal of a student. J.C. Jackson’s charges were dismissed a few years ago, but the committee would not let him back on campus because of his previous issues both in high school and on the UF campus (and the South Carolina behavioral committee also would not let him on the Columbia campus after Muschamp later signed him to play there). And by the way, J.C. Jackson went to a smaller school and is now on a roster in the NFL.

  20. As mentioned previously this alleged incident was the second one in 3 months. My only question is, was he already in some sort of domestic violence/anger management program based on the first incident. If not, the football program brought in a ticking time bomb onto their team this summer. That would be a problem with the team process of evaluating and helping troubled kids who resort to violence when things don’t go their way. Standard protocol should have been to place him in a program the day he stepped on campus. If he was in a program and continued to exhibit the alleged behavior there is no recourse but to say goodbye.

  21. What’s with all this “lock him up, lock him up.” Seems to me the right decision has been made at this time and Watkins won’t touch a football and probably never at UF, til all facts come out. Had he been that great freshman QB UGA recruited, some of the comments here would not be as severe. This kid may be 17 yrs old at this time and extremely immature. Prison won”t help him or society, only turn out a harder thug when released.

    • Too many times, as you say Jasper, true enough. But it really depends on the nature of the jail and whether or not it has ACA accredited programs. Even so, often true.

  22. Read the updated report for the first time. If true, Watkins has some serious emotional and behavioral issues related to women, and he does not need to be anywhere near the UF campus or on any football field. He needs some serious professional help that only a mental facility can provide. Again, if the stated updated information in the article is proven to be true.

  23. If he’s convicted, he should be sentenced to three months confinement in a 6 X 8 room with no windows, only a straight chair during the day, and a 60 inch TV playing the same episode of The Real over and over for eight hours. During the next eight hours, they should make him listen to Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas” over and over. The last eight hours are sleepy time–they take the TV and chair out and bring in a narrow cot so that prepare himself for the next day.

    • No…. if he’s convicted they should sentence him to a year of watching a repeating reel of McElwain/Nussmeier and Muschamp Gator Football offense highlights for 10 hours a day. I could take about 10 minutes and I’d be a reformed man 🙂

  24. And this kid assumingly did this right before Florida’s biggest recruiting weekend of the summer, Friday Night Lights. Unreal.

    And speaking of recruiting, Georgia just landed the commitment of the number two defensive tackle recruit in the nation, and yet another five-star recruit (I think they now have five commitments from 5-star recruits now for their 2-19 class). And I hear that a three-star recruit committed to Miami now has Florida in his top 3. And a 3-star defensive lineman from somewhere up north has now put Florida in his top 15. And a 3-star JC player is now giving the Gators some consideration, with his only other offer being from Oxford (I guess in Mississippi, not England) College. Onward and upward, I guess.

    • Oh….I am sorry. He has an offer from Arkansas State as well as from Oxford College and Florida. Not necessarily in that order, but it seems likely right now.

    • Yeah we need to score better in the late innings…that’s for sure. I was just speaking with a fellow alum about this and brought up some of the points you have made, which are valid. As time goes on, I ans just praying we close hard…but the lack of a solid footprint in So Fla, the nations premier region is baffling. Do you know who recruits the Tampa Bay area? I know of a 2020 recruit that has been offered by all of the heavy hitters (ie Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Free Shoes, etc), but for whatever reason this staff has not reached out like the prior staff under Mac did.

  25. Being from Marion County I can tell you this. Justin Watkins played for three different high schools. One of his former coaches I know (not naming any names) said the kid was very cocky and “not easy to coach”. Given this incident and the prior incident earlier this year in Ocala it is apparent he definitely has some personality flaws. I really don’t care how good of a football player he is on the field, if this is what you can expect to see off the field on a regular basis I think it is time to move on for the Gators. If Mullen truly intends to expect players to live up to the Gator standard on and off the field then this type of behavior if found to be true cannot be tolerated. It tarnishes the Gator brand and reputation. If the alleged details are true I don’t even think the charges levied against him are sufficient. Strangling someone for a total of 23 seconds is not battery. In my opinion that is border line attempted murder. But hey give the guy yet another chance. Maybe next time he want stop until she stops breathing for good. What a disappointment. Do the Gators really need another Aaron Hernandez on the team? I think not.

  26. Seems to me this is one of those times where there is smoke, there is fire. I get it – he hasn’t been convicted or adjudicated yet. But Watkins shouldn’t be in the Univ. of Florida or playing college football until he can get his act together. We must establish high standards after the crap we’ve seen over the past several years.

  27. He needs to be removed from the team, from school, and sent to jail eventually. Even UT booted a player under similar circumstances, we can do no less.

  28. Just read the 247 updated story. Sounds like Watkins plans on dressing up as Lawrence Phillips for Halloween. The guy is garbage. Throw him on the trash heap and call it a day. It’s not the job of the coaching staff to teach an 18 year old that beating and strangling a woman is wrong. That’s common sense. There are plenty of kids of character that don’t get admitted to UF each and every year despite good grades and being upstanding citizens in the community. Watkins was handed the keys to the kingdom because he was blessed with speed and athleticism….and that’s the only reason. He blew it not once but twice. And for any of you planning to use the excuse that kids make mistakes; save it! The only mistake made here was giving this kid a scholarship.

  29. Michael furen. Watkins has displayed violent, emotional behavior recently. But not sure his actions define him as a psychopath just yet. But he could be developing into that. Hope not for his own good and the good of society in general.

  30. On the good news front. Adam Shuler has been finally accepted into the UF graduate school program and will be playing for the Gators this year at DE. Lost a good one (football player) in Walkins. Gained a good one in Shuler, both on and off the field.

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