GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida coach Dan Mullen insists he has “great clarity” regarding absentee defensive back John Huggins.
Not many others do.
Huggins has missed every practice during fall camp because of what the Gators say is a “family issue.” Mullen declined to elaborate, but said Tuesday it has nothing to do with the sophomore allegedly choking a female student last year.
“That’s all been handled,” Mullen said.
According to a police report released this week in response to public records requests, a 19-year-old University of Florida student said Huggins choked her during a tutoring session last October. Huggins was upset because the tutor took his phone in hopes of ensuring he would stay for the entire session, the report said.
The woman had previously been uncomfortable because Huggins pulled her hair in another session, the report said. She did not pursue a criminal case, and no charges were filed from the battery complaint.
Mullen said Huggins was punished; he missed five games following the alleged incident and is currently enrolled at the school.
Nonetheless, the latest police report means three of Mullen’s players and one of his assistants have been named in incidents involving violence against women in a span of seven months.
“I mean, how many of them are actually charged?” Mullen said.
No charges were filed in any of those cases. Three of the four men have since left the program.
“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.”
In April, according to police reports, freshman quarterback Jalon Jones committed sexual battery against two different women on the same evening. Neither woman pursued criminal charges, and Jones has since transferred to Jackson State. Blue-chip prospect Chris Steele, who was Jones’ roommate, left the program following the reports because he was uncomfortable at Florida.
Later that month, 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.” The school terminated Yelverton in late May.
Also in May, defensive back Brian Edwards was arrested on a complaint that he grabbed his girlfriend by the neck during a fight. Edwards was suspended from team activities. The case was dropped because of insufficient evidence. Edwards has since transferred to Central Michigan, reuniting him with former Gators coach Jim McElwain.
Mullen had another recruit, cornerback Justin Watkins, leave the team last summer following his second arrest in 10 weeks. Watkins’ girlfriend said he punched, slapped and choked her in an on-campus dormitory, according to a police report.
“My job as a head coach is not to go in and investigate all that,” Mullen said. “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.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.