John Huggins remains away from the team

With the Florida Gators’ depth concerns at defensive back growing Dan Mullen was asked about a defensive back who made headlines in the spring but has been absent all fall.

John Huggins, a redshirt freshman from Deltona, has been absent from fall camp with what Florida and Dan Mullen are calling a “family issue.”

The University of Florida Police Department released documents after a public records request that detailed an incident that Huggins was in last October.

According to the report Huggins arrived at a tutoring session at around 10:30 a.m. Shortly after the session began Huggins received a text message that he left a jacket with another tutor. Huggins told the complainant that he was going to retrieve the jacket and that he would be right back. The complainant told UFPD that Huggins would regularly leave tutoring sessions early, so she put her hand over his phone and told him that she would keep the phone with her when he was gone to ensure that he would come back.

According to the report Huggins reacted by placing both hands around her neck to the point where she says she could still speak and breath. Huggins released his choke, went to get his jacket and came back to the room “acting as if nothing had happened.” She told her supervisor about the incident shortly after and it was her supervisor that reported it to UFPD. The complainant agreed to meet with and give a statement to UFPD but declined to press charged.

Huggins played in Florida’s first five games of the season but did not play in the five games following the alleged incident. Tuesday Mullen said that situation was “handled” at the time and it is not why Huggins has been absent from practice this fall.

A reporter brought up that there have been several instances of violence against women in Gainesville under Mullen’s watch. To Mullen’s credit all of those instances have been handled. Jalon Jones, Brian Edwards, Justin Watkins have all left the program and a staffer, Otis Yelverton, was fired after he was accused of threatening an ex girlfriend.

“We spend a lot of time in educating our guys. Obviously we are very anti-violence against women, but as you try to investigate the situations, as you try to educate guys on what happens,” Mullen said Tuesday. “The great things is educating on how to make good decisions. Everything gets back to decision making, how can I make good decision in life. If they are learning how to make good decision and how to put yourself in good situations, that’s how we spend all our time educating our guys on those things – and trying to educate the team as a whole.”

As for Huggins, the incident in October is over with as far as Mullen and UF are concerned. There won’t be charges pressed and Mullen handled discipline internally.

It still doesn’t answer the question as to why Huggins has been absent from the team this fall or what his status is moving forward. Mullen was asked directly about Huggins’ current status with the team and says he has an idea or timetable when the sophomore will be back but he wasn’t going to share it publically.

For now Huggins’ absence continues to stress the Gator’ depth in the secondary. C.J. McWilliams ruptured his Achilles and will miss the 2019 season. That leaves Florida with just six healthy and available cornerbacks. Half of those six are true freshmen and two of the six are coming off of ACL surgeries. Both Marco Wilson and Jaydon Hill are cleared to play but with, you get the idea how Huggins’ absence exacerbates the issue of depth.

Mullen is confident that Huggins will be back, he said so on Tuesday. When he will be back, well we don’t know and each passing day would make it seem less likely that Huggins would be ready to go against Miami on August 24.

Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC