Former UF star recruit pleads no contest to trespassing charge

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

By Katie Pohlman, Staff writer

Former University of Florida star football recruit Justin Lamar Watkins pleaded no contest Tuesday to a charge of trespassing on school property.

Watkins, 19, of Clermont, was arrested in May for trespassing at Vanguard High School, 7 NW 28th St., Ocala. With his plea, Watkins was given credit for one day served and ordered to pay more than $500 in court fines. A judicial review hearing is set for November, during which a judge will determine if Watkins has complied with his requirements. If he has not, he faces a maximum of 30 days in the Marion County Jail, according to court records.

On May 4, he followed his on-again, off-again girlfriend to school after the two had a verbal altercation at the girl’s residence, according to a police report. Watkins followed her into the student parking lot at Vanguard and pulled in behind her parked car.

The girl told police that Watkins, who is not a student at Vanguard, started kicking her vehicle and attempted to let the air out of her passenger side rear tire, but she stopped him. She said the situation seemed to be escalating so she left the parking lot to get away from him. At this point, Watkins got back in his car and drove away, according to the report. The altercation was recorded on school security cameras.

Watkins changed schools four times during his prep football career, including his transfer to Clermont East Ridge for his senior season. He began at Vanguard as a freshman before he moved to North Marion for his sophomore season and then went back to Vanguard for his junior campaign.

At the time of his arrest, Watkins was the Gators’ top-rated 2018 signee, but he has since announced via Twitter that he is leaving the university after his Marion County arrest and another in Alachua County.

Watkins was arrested by University of Florida police on July 24 and charged with two counts of battery, one count of false imprisonment and one count of domestic battery by strangulation. He pleaded not guilty to those charges on July 27, according to Alachua County court records.

State Attorney Bill Cervone said Tuesday, “We have the case against him. That’s an ongoing investigation.”

Contact Katie Pohlman at 867-4065, or @katie_pohlman.


  1. Please stop posting articles about a former, alleged criminal recruit that never played a down for UF.

    I understand talking about Aaron Hernandez, for example. He player here and helped win a Title. But this guy?

    WHO CARES!!!? seriously. It is getting old. Post some real new credible NEWS about UF football. He is not part of UF Football, right?

  2. We’ve truly become thug U. Sad what’s happened to our school and program. Meanwhile, UGA, FSU and Miami and kicking our teeth down our throats in recruiting. Not convinced that Mullen will be able to turn things around anytime soon.

    • It’s not even written by one of the sports staffers, as far as I can tell. I think the sports coverage and writing is superb, myself, but this “news”? Well written, just not of any interest anymore. You might say we’re focused on other fish to fry.