Florida dismisses troubled defensive back Huggins

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Florida defensive back John Huggins was dismissed from the team. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

Florida defensive back John Huggins, one of the team’s breakout players in spring camp, has been dismissed from the program. 

The Deltona native has missed all of preseason camp while dealing with what the Gators described as a “family issue.” 

Yet the inquiry into the sophomore’s absence revealed an allegation of assault during Huggins’ freshman season on campus. 

According to a University of Florida police report obtained earlier this week, a 19-year-old UF student accused Huggins of choking her during a tutoring session last October. 

Huggins was allegedly upset because the tutor took his phone to ensure he would stay for the entire session, according to the report. 

The woman had already been uncomfortable around Huggins after he pulled her hair in another tutoring session, the police report stated. She did not pursue a criminal case, and no charges were filed from the battery complaint, although she no longer wished to tutor Huggins outside a group setting, the report stated. 

During Florida coach Dan Mullen’s media session Tuesday, he said  Huggins had been punished at the time for the incident, noting he didn’t play in Florida’s ensuing five games as “part of” his punishment. 

Mullen added Huggins’ absence this preseason camp, and ultimately his dismissal, had nothing to do with the alleged incident in October. 

Regardless, the newly surfaced report naming Huggins is the latest allegation against a member of the UF football program involving violence against women. 

Freshman quarterback Jalon Jones, reserve defensive back Brian Edwards and assistant director of player personnel Otis Yelverton have left the program following incidents involving accusations of violence or threats of violence against women. 

“Obviously, I’m a big anti-violence against women person,” Mullen said Tuesday. “I’m also a person that I really want to have all of the information as I make decisions and what happens in different situations and that’s one of the toughest deals.” 

Mullen also had a recruit, former four-star in-state athlete Justin Watkins, depart the program last summer following his second arrest in the span of 10 weeks. Watkins’ girlfriend said he punched, slapped and choked her in an on-campus residence hall, according to a police report. 

“My job as a head coach is not to go in and investigate all that,” Mullen said. “I have to manage the situation, manage my players on those types of things and let the university process play or the legal process play its course.”

Huggins dismissal makes for an even thinner secondary. On Tuesday, Mullen announced redshirt junior C.J. McWilliams, the backup at one cornerback spot and at the star position, ruptured his Achilles in a recent practice and is out for the season. Huggins was expected to be the No. 2 star behind Trey Dean.

With the lack of depth in the secondary, Mullen said the three true freshman defensive backs — Kaiir Elam, Jaydon Hill and Chester Kimbrough — will see playing time this season.

21 COMMENTS

  1. This being an AP story, I get the attempt to sensationalize by the comment of “3 players and 1 assistant, yadda, yadda”. But Dan Mullen has the right approach to this type of indiscipline and makes decisions based on all the facts on a case by case basis. Honestly, I don’t know what else to expect of the man, so damnit, good for him.

    • Rog, this is the consequence of young males raised in fatherless homes and having their naturally thuggish behavior tolerated by athletic programs in order to take advantage of their natural abilities to play ball.

      Whether we refer to this misguided young man, or the Gator football program, or American society at large, a logical rule we can’t avoid applies: we ARE all entitled to our own CHOICES, but we’re NOT entitled our own CONSEQUENCES resulting from our choices.

      This young man and many others, can CHOOSE to behave like thugs. He couldn’t AVOID the logical CONSEQUENCE of getting thrown off the team and out of school… unless… CDM had CHOSEN to tolerate his thuggish behavior.

      CDM could CHOOSE to tolerate thuggish behavior on the part of his players, as Coach Meyer did for the sake of good results on the field. If he did that, he wouldn’t be able to AVOID the logical consequence of having the Gator football labeled as a “den of criminals and malcontents” as the Meyer Gators did.

      American society can CHOOSE to allow fathers to avoid responsibility for socializing their male offsprings by making welfare payments to mothers who CHOOSE to raise those young males alone. Societycan’t AVOID the CONSEQUENTIAL thuggish behavior of a large percentage of those fatherless young males.

      It’s only logical, if we all want DIFFERENT CONSEQUENCES, we must make DIFFERENT CHOICES. CDM, at least, is attempting to do just that for the Gator football program.

      Remember his exemplary CHOICE made now IF injuries deplete our secondary later and hurt team performance this season. He’s attempting to build a solid Gator program for the future.

      GO GATORS!!!

    • Rog – often it is what they see happening around them. Also, humans like this usually see woman (or significant others) as property and that they expect them to be submissive. Things will be hard to change until life styles change and keep from producing these types of humans. All too often humans in our society want to treat the effect and not address the cause. Much like treating a cancer instead of ridding the world of things that cause or may aid in the cause of the disease. Until that changes, it will likely continue for ever. Usually there are drugs and/or alcohol involved, so just more variables to deal with. Just another reason that I state that humans are the worst creature in the universe. GO GATORS!!!

  2. “Mullen added Huggins’ absence this preseason camp, and ultimately his dismissal, had nothing to do with the alleged incident in October.”
    Lets see, this all happened last Oct, he doesnt get expelled, the police report surfaces this week and he’s gone, but it has nothing to do with his expulsion……Riiigght!

  3. Let’s move on from Huggins. He might have been expected to have a big role this year, but he was ruled out of 5 games last year and, while he showed some talent when he played, was not yet ready, in my opinion, for being a big-time DB in the SEC. Just move on with the freshmen and hope the starters stay healthy.

  4. Im glad to see the program handling these kinds of things in a way that may help this player huggins ultimately find a better path for himself. it will hurt the 2019 gators, because depth and special teams are important in a competitive early season schedule, but i believe the gators are unified this is the best way to handle the situation. i wish huggins well and the people harmed even more so.

      • Nash – I agree with you, but in today’s “Jerry Springer” world, it seems that everyone must know what is going on. I used to say women were worse, but I think it is pretty even now. A player was released and is no longer a GATOR, so who are the next men up? I do need to know how are team is doing, but I don’t need to know why a player is no longer on the team. When I was younger I probably wanted to know, but now it just doesn’t matter. I can fall asleep and miss the end of a tv show and I don’t care enough how it ended. Ignorance and defiance is a waste to the youth of America, and I mean most of us included, that it would be awesome to be born “knowing.” But we have to deal with the hand we are given and make to best of it. I honestly don’t know how I and many of my friends ever made it past 18 to be honest…LOL. It is said that women dig scars…if this is true I am a frigin 12…LMAO. GO GATORS!!!