The decision to dismiss sophomore safety John Huggins from the Florida football team was made by the coaching staff, not the university, UF coach Dan Mullen said Monday.
“That was ours,” he said. “Not living up to what we expect of the Gator standard.”
Just a week ago, Mullen indicated that Huggins still might fit into UF’s plans at the star position in the secondary. Although the decision to dismiss seems somewhat sudden, it wasn’t, Mullen said.
“It was evolving,” he said. “There were things we were looking at him having to do. It was a constant process.”
Mullen on Banks
Huggins wasn’t the only player removed from the roster over the weekend. On Sunday, senior offensive lineman Noah Banks announced on Twitter that he was giving up football due to his ongoing battle with epilepsy.
Mullen said he did not anticipate Banks’ decision.
“No, you don’t know,” he said. “In the spring he didn’t go through anything trying to get himself healthy and then he came to us wanting to come back. He was excited to come back. I think it just took a toll on him and he just decided it wasn’t for his best, his health, for the long term and the future.”
Banks was having a solid camp and had worked his way into the playing rotation at offensive guard.
The Gators second scrimmage of preseason camp was better than the first, Mullen said.
“The guys on the team took some steps forward,” Mullen said of Sunday night’s scrimmage. “I think it was just cleaner football from top to bottom. It makes it easier to coach off of. The key is making sure guys are getting ready, more into the game mentality. So, the scrimmage is better for being able to transition from one situation to the other.”
The Gators came out of the scrimmage with no significant injuries, and camp will be over in just three more days.
“It’s on us quick,” Mullen said. “I think we have really three more practices. Today will be helmets, Friday will be shorts and T-shirts, walk-through type practice. There are only three more practices and then game week, so we have to have a sense of urgency, making sure they’re ready to go play.
“Getting guys ready to play and staying healthy is obviously a huge part, especially with a long season this year with the three bye weeks. There will be that and there will be different opportunities for guys to stay healthy during the course of the season. But it’s spread out, so we just have to work to stay healthy and to see if the guys continually improve and take steps in the right direction.”
Freshmen into the fire
With a lack of depth at the cornerback spots, there’s a chance the three true freshmen corners — Kaiir Elam, Jaydon Hill and Chester Kimbrough — will see playing time in the opener against Miami.
“Oh, yeah. We expect them all to play,” Mullen said. “They’re learning, they’re getting a lot of reps, getting rotated in to different situations. Obviously, to get to see them get into the game when the season starts, it’ll be a little bit different than practice. But they’re going to get the opportunity to grow up right away this year. A bunch of freshmen will probably play and get opportunities this year.”
Humphries still idle
One freshman who won’t be playing early this season is defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries, who continues to rehab an injured knee.
“He’s still dealing with some medical issues, some injuries he came in with,” Mullen said. “So, he has not practiced yet. He’s on our training camp roster, but has not made it to a practice yet. Hopefully, he gets healthy in the next couple of weeks and keeps moving forward.”
Davis on the rise
Junior safety Shawn Davis had another big play in Sunday’s scrimmage and appears to be having a breakout camp.
“He’s worked. He’s taken a step forward,” Mullen said. “He got an explosive (play in the scrimmage). I think he’s gotten comfortable in the defense, making calls and getting himself in the right position to make plays. That’s a big positive.
“I love seeing the guys grow and develop. What you want to see is how they keep taking the next steps in their careers, which is what we want our guys to do. He’s had a pretty good camp. He’s certainly going to be in the rotation of guys playing.”