Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Gators

Five Florida Gators have now been accused of violence against women under Dan Mullen

Defensive back John Huggins was accused of choking his tutor in October. She did not pursue criminal charges.
Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen coaches Florida Gators defensive back John Huggins (26) in the fourth quarter in a game against Colorado State University at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida. (Times, 2018)
Published Aug. 6
Updated Aug. 6

GAINESVILLE — We still don’t know the details of why Florida defensive back John Huggins hasn’t been with the Gators during preseason camp.

We also don’t know when he’ll return from what UF has called a family issue.

But we do know that his recent past includes the fifth accusation of violence (or a threat of violence) against a woman in coach Dan Mullen’s year-and-a-half tenure.

In October, a 19-year-old student accused Huggins of choking her during a tutoring session, according to a police report obtained this week by the Tampa Bay Times and other news outlets. Huggins was upset, the report alleges, because the tutor took his phone to make sure he would stay for the entire session (which she said Huggins often failed to do).

The woman had previously been made uncomfortable because Huggins pulled her hair in an earlier tutoring session, according to the report. She did not pursue a criminal case, and no charges were filed from the battery complaint.

The case went unreported at the time but not unpunished internally. Huggins missed five games soon after the incident.

Mullen said Tuesday that Huggins’ current absence has nothing to do with whatever happened in October.

“That’s all been handled,” Mullen said.

Mullen has a timetable for Huggins’ return but isn’t sharing it publicly. He said he has “great clarity” on Huggins’ status, but he isn’t sharing that, either. There are no public records from the Gainesville Police Department, University of Florida Police Department or the state attorney’s office about other serious crimes involving Huggins.

Huggins —who had a breakout spring and was expected to be a valuable contributor in a thin secondary —was among a handful of players who didn’t participate in Monday’s scrimmage for various reasons.

“There are about 3-4 guys that are in that position, but I know all of them,” Mullen said.

The difference is that Huggins has an ugly accusation against him — one that increases a negative spotlight on Mullen and his program.

In April, blue-chip early enrollee quarterback Jalon Jones was accused of sexual battery by two different women on the same evening. Neither woman pursued a criminal case, and UF suspended him after the spring game. Jones has since transferred to Jackson State.

That same month, then-assistant director of player personnel Otis Yelverton was arrested on a complaint of cyberstalking his girlfriend and threatening to blow up her car. The case was dropped in June because of “insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.”

RELATED: Florida Gators’ Dan Mullen 'disappointed’ in Jalon Jones, Brian Edwards accusations

In May, defensive back Brian Edwards was arrested on a complaint that he grabbed his girlfriend by the neck during a fight. Edwards was kept away from team activities until that case was also dropped because of insufficient evidence. He has since transferred to Central Michigan and former UF coach Jim McElwain.

That’s four accusations against members of Mullen’s program in a seven-month stretch. That doesn’t even include a case from last summer when four-star freshman Justin Watkins was accused of striking and choking his girlfriend. All of that despite the many ways Mullen said his program tries to educate players about making good decisions.

“We do a lot, you know,” Mullen said. “I mean, how many of them are actually charged?”

Three were arrested, if you’re keeping track.

“Obviously I’m a big anti-violence against women person,” Mullen said. “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….

“My job as a head coach is not to go in and investigate all that. I hear, here’s one report. Here’s the other report. They don’t match up. And it’s not my job to really make that decision on campus with how that works….

“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.”

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Juwan Taylor (44) grabs the jersey of Florida Gators running back Kadarius Toney (4) while he runs the ball in the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday, October 27, 2018.   BRONTE WITTPENN  | TIMES
    “I think it would be great to get him back out there,” Mullen says of Kadarius Toney’s expected return.
  2. LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, left, fights off a tackle by Mississippi State cornerback Jarrian Jones on a short pass reception Oct. 19 in Starkville. LSU won 36-13. ROGELIO V. SOLIS  |  AP
    Mullen’s new program is in the top 10, while his old one is in danger of snapping the bowl streak he started.
  3. Florida Gators head coach Mike White, right, takes selfie photos with Gators fan Zev Goodman, 13, during open practice that was available to the public at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on Thursday. Tonight the Nov. 4 Gators take on the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
    Florida State wasn’t ranked but received votes.
  4. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp says he doesn't want to take anything away from Florida, but he doesn't want to keep quiet about the officiating either. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The South Carolina coach says getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct was "gutless.''
  5. After years of complex Internet-to-TV setups and multiple streaming boxes, it seems the tech has finally caught up with the dream of cutting the cable cord, as several companies, such as Roku and TiVo, have begun offering devices specifically geared to cord cutters.
    Live sports without cable TV isn’t as different as you might think. And that can have serious ramifications across college sports.
  6. Florida's James Houston IV (41) and Umstead Sanders (42) jog through the tunnel before the start of the NCAA college football game against South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. (AP Photo/Mic Smith) MIC SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY LLC  |  AP
    There were two shakeups to Matt Baker’s top five this week, too.
  7. Florida's Kyle Trask throws a pass against South Carolina in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. Florida defeated South Carolina 38-27. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The quarterback’s three fourth-quarter touchdowns help UF put the Gamecocks away for good.
  8. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith watches as his team plays against Minnesota on Oct. 5 in Minneapolis. BRUCE KLUCKHOHN  |  AP
    Game-day guide: Plus a look at Penn State-Michigan and a game plan that’s crazy enough to (almost) work for the Vols this weekend.
  9. BYU linebacker Max Tooley (31) tackles USF running back Jordan Cronkrite (2) during the second half of last week's game at Raymond James Stadium. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Game-day guide: And Will Muschamp’s South Carolina tenure looks almost exactly like his time with the Florida Gators.
  10. Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) throws a pass against Auburn on Oct. 5 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Kyle Trask and Emory Jones are thriving at Florida, while Willie Taggart is being tight-lipped at Florida State.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement