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.