UF’s Watkins released from jail following arrest on four charges

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East Ridge's Justin Watkins. [PAUL RYAN /CORRESPONDENT]

Florida freshman defensive back Justin Watkins, who was arrested Tuesday on four charges involving domestic violence, was released Wednesday afternoon from the Alachua County jail after posting bail.

Watkins, 19, appeared in court for the first time Wednesday morning on two misdemeanor charges of battery, a third degree felony charge of false imprisonment of an adult and a third degree felony charge of domestic battery by strangulation. His bond was set then at $40,000. 

A standing no contact order was issued for Watkins to refrain from contact, verbal and physical, with the alleged victim. A source close to Watkins indicated the family intends to hire a Gainesville attorney, but until that happens public defender Canaan Goldman will represent Watkins. Meanwhile the state has assigned prosecutor Sean Brewer, the Division Chief in the Crimes Against Women and Families unit, to the case.

It’s Watkins’ second arrest in 11 weeks involving an alleged female victim, and the incident report this time does little to prove Watkins’ innocence.

According to a University of Florida Police Department arrest report, Watkins intentionally struck the victim, with whom he had been in a relationship with since December, with an open and closed fist while holding her down on a bed on July 20.

Watkins proceeded to mount the victim, according to the report, and “wrapped his hands around the victim’s throat with both hands, blocking her airway and impeding breathing.” Watkins, who knew the victim had asthma, “repeated to block the airway twice more for period of approximately 8 seconds,” the report states.

When the alleged victim attempted to exit Watkins’ residence, located at Keys Residential Complex at UF, Watkins allegedly blocked the exit and “grabbed her hair and belt, yanking her back into the room, preventing her escape.” It was only when the victim sprayed Watkins in the face with mace that she was able to leave the residence hall, whereupon Watkins “then chased her out the door and down the stairs” and proceeded to throw a “hard wooden brush” and a container of hair grease at the alleged victim, according to the report.

On Monday, the alleged victim filed a report with UPD, where photographs taken by investigators of the alleged victim’s injuries were consistent with her description of the incident.

Following Watkins’ arrest, UF coach Dan Mullen suspended the Clermont native from all team activities pending an investigation.

Watkins also was arrested May 9 in Ocala after he allegedly kicked a woman’s car and broke her cellphone during an argument. Police say he then followed her to Vanguard High School, where she was a student. Watkins was arrested on a misdemeanor complaint of 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. One of the highest rated members of Florida’s 2018 class, Watkins was expected to contribute as a cornerback and on special teams despite being rated as one of the state’s top wide receiver prospects. But now, pending the outcome of the investigation, it appears Watkins’ potential UF career is in jeopardy.

46 COMMENTS

  1. Someone needs to tell his parents that he needs much more than lawyer help. He needs to see a mental health professional and a behavioral science specialist ASAP. If the description of his actions are true, and it certainly appears to be that on the surface, he is a deeply troubled and disturbed young man. And why is this all happening at once? Did his high school hide something during his recruitment process? Or did the Florida staff just ignore his behavior concerns if they did exit? I do know that Alabama suddenly went cold on the kid during his recruitment. Lots of unanswered questions that deserve some answers from someone by some people.

      • His first, most pressing need is in the legal domain. If I know the criminal justice system, his mental health issues will at least be addressed too. However, I’m a little confused about his age — 17 or 19? If it’s the latter, he’ll most likely be held to a standard that may not work out for him too well.

    • This is such a complete, thorough and deep analysis TampaGator. I hope what you wrote will be heard where it is supposed to be heard at. I would have expected Gatorsports to dig this issue rather than just giving us the news. Thanks again for bringing this out.

    • I’ll tell you why it happened… we’ve lost national prominence. Our recruiting is out of desperation to get a “ranked” recruiting class.there are a lot of four star.recruits, the ones who are citizens are at Alabama and Georgia. The four star thugs are at Florida. We do not have the clout to get the clean 4 stars …. we get the hood rats.

      • That’s a little bit of an over-reach, but the loss of national prominence is hard to argue with and something that hurts the Gator base to the core. Stay the course, it’s fixin’ to change.

  2. If I am correct, this is his SECOND ARREST within 11 weeks, for VIOLENT CRIMES. He’ll be in prison, or DEAD before he reaches 21 years of age. Why was he “Suspended” from the Florida football Team? He should be KICKED OFF?????? I thought Dan Mullen would instill some standards and accountability in his team?? Sounds like more of the McElwain mentality – remember last season, or have you forgotten??

    • Respectfully disagree Les — although I take your point. I think the protocol is normally one of “suspend pending…”. One thing I’ve learned over time is that the first info is usually a) wrong, or b) if not wrong, possibly not completely accurate. No harm in Mullen waiting until more information is in, to include even talking to the youngster himself as warranted. I suspect dismissal will follow appropriately soon — no reason to take the coach to task yet.

      • I agree. the source of our info so far is media, which has been wrong about a lot of things recently. I’m sure reading a police or arrest and booking report is pretty self explanatory though. He undoubtedly did some bad things here. but Mullen may be the only father figure this kid will have in his life. The team and school may be his best hope for some leadership. As for mental health counselor, I am all for that. But this kid’s problems are also fundamentally spiritual . Lack of respect for others is a spiritual concern. Get him to a priest or a minister with a degree or specialty in counseling. If he doesn’t respond to all this within a reasonable time, let him go.

        • Bio-psycho-social is the fundamental model, mkf…..but it should really be bio-psycho-spiritual. Unfortunately, one drawback to all the cultural humanism we see in our post-modern culture-at-large is that last component has apparently become obsolete as man allegedly perfects himself. Good call.

    • Why doesnt your boss fire you the next day when you have accusations against you? Though that statement is self explanatory, you, may just need an explanation. An intelligent person doesnt go off half cocked making rash decisions, especially where grave consequences are concerned! He is measured and does an investigation before proceeding, even where the outcome seems obvious at the time. Remember the Duke LaCrosse rape case where a team of players had their careers ruined by rape allegations that turned out to be TOTALLY false, though at 1st, many people thought it seemed like a slam dunk! There the University were stupid and did just what you want Mullen to do and in the end it cost the players dearly and cost Duke millions!!!!! If Mullen were to act rash like that It would confirm to me he was stupid! and a knee jerk reactionary rather than an intelligent man!

    • les Jacobs. Mullen followed proper UF protocol with his immediate suspension of Watkins from all team activities. FSU never did such a correct action with their Famous J. serial female assault specialist.

  3. If true (I bet it is) he needs to be gone from the team, gone from UF, and probably in jail. Those that think he just has some issues and needs help are living in a fantasy alternative reality. He can get all the help he needs in jail.

  4. Just when one thought the news could not get any worse. It is now being reported that Florida football players (WR Tony, DT Campbell, WR Cleveland, WR Wells, WR Gamble, and QB Jones) are going before the Student Conflict and Resolution Department for an altercation that involved initially what was thought to having and waving AR15s at some troublemakers on campus. The guns turned out to be airsoft guns (not real guns) but were painted to look like AR15s. The police were called to the scene to break up the incident. All the players face possible unknown suspension from the team and possible dismissal from UF for violation of the student conduct code. I would imagine that this could be the final strike for Cleveland and Wells at UF, as they were previously involved with gun use on campus. These were fake guns, but no one knew that at the time. The use of the fake guns by the players, the police explained, could have resulted in people getting serious hurt during the incident. I am starting to believe that the NCAA needs to start not only requiring a certain academic ability for college football players, they might need to start making recruits pass a psychology exam for mental and moral development. THIS HAS TO STOP at the University of Florida and elsewhere. Eventually, a bunch of innocent and law abiding students are going to get killed as a result of some stupid football jock pulling a stunt like this on the UF campus. God, this is so embarrassing, again.

    • And the comment about Cleveland and Wells was my perspective…..not in the article. I am assuming that because of their previous gun incident where the had to face the same conduct group. I am sure a second time before them for a gun related issue is not going to sit well with them or parents who pay good money to send their kids to what they think is a safe environment, made not so by this kind of idiotic behavior by football players on campus. I am personally sick of the enablement of college football players who simply do not understand the expectations of being a student at the University of Florida, and repeat bad and unacceptable behavior because they are enabled to do so. I would tell Wells and Cleveland to hit the road, along with Watkins. UF can win or lose without them and their repeated bad behavior and involvement with questionable people.

  5. In addition, 247Sports is now reporting the same, but also stated in their article that no criminal charges were filed against the players involved. But they also stated that this is not a good thing for Wells and Cleveland because of their previous involvement with BB guns being fired on campus at a dorm. It looks like most of the players mentioned will just be suspended for an unknown number of games and that Mullen is using the situation as a learning moment for the entire team. My question is: how many learning moments will it take for University of Florida football players to start learning something? Some of them just seem to be really lacking in common basic sense and not knowing what decent behavior on a university campus is.

    • Wells has the credit card thing so it’s looking bad for him being around.
      Jones being in this is bad news. Cleveland is also in deep trouble.
      Team is not making the decisions it needs to make to win. This Is why people hate the fluff pieces about a guys potential.

    • I don’t think you’ll see much come of this considering there were no charges filed. The school will discipline them and move on. Wells being involved in the credit card scandal might spell the end for him, but pretty sure the other players will still remain. I think one of the most troubling parts of this story is the fact that all these guys are associating with a known gambler. After watching how they gave up in a lot of games last season, makes you wonder if there was something shady going on behind the scenes. Thats the type of situation the NCAA likes to stick their noses into.

  6. I knew this summer was going way too good with no reported incidents halfway thru July. Now the garbage truck has backed up to the gate and dumped a ton of trash. Just in time to throw the whole football team in a bad light right before fall camp. The idiocy never ends with these guys. I wish Mullin would take a hard line and show all these troublemakers the door – out of Gainesville.

  7. Wells should be booted. Cleveland on very thin ice. Sad to hear about Jones. No leadership on this team whatsoever. Plus, recruiting is trending in the wrong direction.

    Gator football has the plague.

  8. ”I believe it’s the old adage, ”An idle mind (or time) is a playground for the Devil.”
    And the Devil’s been running around -in some heads- over there at the Key Complex (or whatever they call the Football Dorm now). The players should have some type of ”Conduct Representative” from the Football Team over there, and 24/7, too. Because IF they’re going to act like they’re in MIDDLE SCHOOL, then treat them like they’re MIDDLE SCHOOL KIDS!
    ”Come on Gators…”

  9. Unfortunately, this is just further proof of the free-fall UF’s football team is in. Thank God Coach Mullen has appeared to lead us out of this dark hole we find ourselves in. I hope he has the inner strength to do the right thing.

    I, for one, hope the Student Council tells the repeat offenders that they are no longer a member of the student body. The credit card scam involving 9-10 players last year and now this ridiculousness involving 6 players with realistic assault rifles certainly puts UF in a bad light.

    As one of eight proud Gator grads in my family, I have to ask why is this kind of utter stupidity seemingly only happening in just Gainesville? Certainly we can’t be the only school where your read that the student body is supposedly confrontational with its football team. I just don’t buy it.

    • This type of stuff is definitely happening at campus’ all over the country. The big difference being the GPD seems to have a direct line to the media the second something happens. Hell OSU has coaches beating women.

  10. “Damn the University of Florida — got some b***h a** players”, said the non-student gambler otherwise known as Tay Bang. Of course, this whole thing could really be just another episode of “Straight Out of Compton”, but I’m afraid this ain’t no movie — this is real.

    And so the sky fell on May 28th, but who knew? We’ll have to double check tomorrow to make sure the sun has come back up again. I remember reading recently that these kids today aren’t any better or worse than before, they’re just different. No foolin’.

  11. If you get to many bad apples in any organization, particularly a team, the whole organization begins to minmick the same behaviors. Even the good leaders become sideline observers. Perhaps leadership development courses I, II, and III would be useful for the players and program. Freshmen and offenders start with level I. Go Gators!

  12. We should exercise restraint with the rhetoric until we know all the facts. (And I am referring to the incident of the thugs and the football players. Geez, Watkins is another sick, Chris Rainey like, matter.) There were some serious errors in judgment, and I will trust the University to figure out what, if any, repercussions will occur with any of the players involved.

  13. Incidents like this happening during the summer just make me wonder why the NCAA has a rule that the coaches cannot be involved with the players during this time. It would seem that if they were involved in team organized team activities during this time frame, then they would have a lot less time to get in trouble and the coaches could continue to mentor them. I understand that these are 17-22 year old young men who should know how to act but some young men mature faster than others and some need more guidance than others. I am sure the NCAA has a reason for the rule but I would like to know what there logic is. Does anybody here understand it?

  14. Cut our losses now. This is the classic two strikes and you’re out case. When he physically put his hands on someone else, that’s it.

    He should be GONE… as of two days ago. Adios, Sayanora, Aloha, outta here.

    Two arrests in 11 weeks and he hasn’t even gotten to his first Fall practice yet? No way in hell folks. He needs to be booted now. No more chances. This kid is a live, exposed wire and will be nothing but a distraction and impetus for problems if he remains.

    When Mullen got here, he knew he inherited a total mess of a program that he was going to have to rebuild from the ground up again. Offense, defense, special teams, S&C, facilities, recruiting, team discipline… all of it needed a major overhaul. The first year is always the hardest and so far, it’s proving to be exactly that for a new coach who inherited a disaster.

    We see the problem NOW with Watkins, so don’t give him the chance to be a continuing problem. You saw what happened with Winston at fsu, and no doubt, Fisher knew Winston’s numerous high school run-ins with the law in high school, as well as Dalvin Cook’s.

    Mullen should nip this in the bud as soon as he talks with Watkins and cut his losses on this.

  15. This raises a serious red flag about this staff and program. This thug should never have been on campus given his previous incident. What kind of man, young or old, physically attacks women?
    Violence against women should be a zero tolerance issue. No second chances.
    Mullen needs to be answering some tough questions right now. Anyone at the Sun have the guts to do it?

    • Keep in mind that your current head coach was also on campus with the likes of Aaron Hernandez, Percy Harvey, Chris Rainey, and the Pouncey brothers, to name a few….Someone forgot to tell him that Huntley ain’t around no more.

      • Watty Buttdog. Keep in mind that Georgia has a long, long history of very similar and much worse actions by their players. I do recall that Georgia has multiple players suspended just last year. And the clock is ticking right now on some of your players right now. And Smart will not let people know why your 5-star DB was not allowed to play last year and is still not officially participating in football activities at Georgia. Very Saban like of Smart. Florida is just more transparent that the folks in Athens.

        • You’re right, but mostly for underage drinking and smoking a little weed. Not choking and assaulting women or waiving guns dressed up like AR-15s, or hanging with professional bookies (Hmmmmmm, wonder how long that’s been going on?). When UF goes rogue, they go the way of the felony. Don’t worry, everything will be fine in Hogtown. Mullen can always lean on his learnings from the Urban playbook of discipline.

          • My man Wally…we all know ole Dawg nation puts out nothing but aw shuck guys that we should be in awe of…and with Bainbridge GA’s Kirby Smart, coming from that bastion of integrity in Tuscaloosa always abides by the book….but hey does it feel good to be relevant again or what! Pretty cool to be able to talk ish huh?

    • Good question, impossible to answer tho. Maybe just recruit Army Airborne Rangers, Marine operators, Navy SEALs, and Air Force Air Commandos? Tougher than nails, self disciplined already, smart, and think of the food savings since their diet consists of snakes and bugs. Sure wouldn’t have problems with them taking a knee during the national anthem, either.