Florida took a pounding in the press this past week with an accumulation of reports pointing out the fact that five members of the football program, including four players, had been accused of violence against women.
The most recent revelation involved John Huggins, who was accused late last year by a female tutor of choking her after the 19-year-old student confiscated the player’s cellphone. For whatever reason, though, the alleged victim declined to pursue charges against Huggins; conversely, the defensive back didn’t play in the last five games of last season after the incident, seemingly serving a previously unreported suspension.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Huggins had remained away from the team since the start of summer camp this month as he continued to deal with what was only being described as a “family situation” that head coach Dan Mullen said was unrelated to the accusations a year ago; that sabbatical will apparently become permanent, however, as it’s now being reported that Huggins has been dismissed from the Gators.
Huggins was a three-star member of the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 28 safety in the country. He played in the first eight games of his true freshman season before his non-suspension suspension went into effect.
Prior to the off-field issues coming to light, Huggins had been expected to play an expanded role in Florida’s ever-thinning secondary this coming season.
As for the other incidents involving members of the UF program since Mullen took over?
- Four-star 2018 signee Justin Watkins was arrested twice in a two-month span last year. The first was on a misdemeanor charge of trespassing on school grounds after a verbal argument with an unidentified female turned violent as Watkins shattered the woman’s cellphone, kicked her vehicle and attempted to let the air out of her tires. The second was even more serious as Watkins was arrested and booked on four charges, including a pair of third-degree felonies (false imprisonment/kidnapping and domestic battery by strangulation) as well as two misdemeanors (first-degree battery), after allegedly pinning his girlfriend to a bed, punching her with a closed fist and choking her on three separate occasions. He announced in late July of last year that he was leaving UF “to better my opportunities.”
- In early May of this year, it was reported that four-star 2019 signee Jalon Jones had been accused by an unnamed female of sexually assaulting her in the early morning hours of April 6. It was subsequently unearthed that another unnamed female had accused the UF quarterback of sexually assaulting her that same day as well at the same on-campus residence as the first alleged victim. As was the case with Watkins, Jones left UF and ultimately landed at an FCS school.
- Otis Yelverton was arrested in April on one count of aggravated cyberstalking, which also led to his dismissal as UF’s assistant director of player personnel. It was alleged at the time that, among the 40-plus calls, Facebook messages and texts the 51-year-old Yelverton sent/made to his former girlfriend, one included a threat to blow up her car. Late last week, and citing “insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction,” the State’s Attorney’s Office formally dismissed the case against Yelverton.
- In May, defensive back Brian Edwards was arrested on one count of misdemeanor battery after allegedly abusing his girlfriend, although charges were never formally filed due to insufficient evidence. Edwards entered the NCAA transfer portal in early July and transferred to Central Michigan a month later.
For the second time Thursday, Eli Drinkwitz has added an assistant to his new Missouri coaching staff. And, for the second time, it’s a member of his old Appalachian State.
First, Charlie Harbison was announced as a defensive assistant whose specific duties will be spelled out later. Next, it’s Erik Link being the second confirmed addition as part of Drinkwitz’s 10-man on-field staff.
Unlike Harbison, though, Link’s role has already been defined — special teams coordinator. That’s the same job Link held with the Mountaineers in 2019, his first and only season with the Sun Belt Conference school.
“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard. They focus on effort, execution and high energy.”
Link was the special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2018, his first season as an on-field assistant at the FBS level. In 2011-12, he was the special teams coordinator at FCS Montana State.
In two separate stints at Auburn, he served as a quality control assistant (2010) and special teams/offensive analyst (2013-15).
The Lane Train is wasting little time rolling out members of his first coaching staff in Oxford.
Officially confirmed as Ole Miss’ head coach Saturday, Lane Kiffin on Thursday unveiled the first two members of his on-field staff — offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and offensive assistant Kevin Smith.
While Smith wasn’t given an official title, he spent the past three seasons as Kiffin’s running backs coach at FAU. That was the 43-year-old Smith’s first on-field role at any level of football as he had spent the previous three seasons at his alma mater UCF as both a coaching intern and quality control coach.
Smith, a consensus All-American as a running back at UCF, played five years for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and one season in the Canadian Football League.
Lebby, coincidentally enough, spent the past two seasons at UCF, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.
Lebby’s father-in-law is disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. His brother-in-law is Kendal Briles, who was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at FAU for one season before leaving for the same job at Houston and then, ultimately, Florida State.
In addition to those on-field hires, Wilson Love was announced as the Rebels’ head strength & conditioning coach. Like Smith, Love was a part of Kiffin’s Owls program the past three years.
Both No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Ohio State showed out well during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Thursday night. Not surprisingly, both football programs did the same on one of the most prestigious teams in the sport as well.
Earlier tonight, the Walter Camp Football Foundation released its 2019 All-American teams, the 130th such squad recognized by the organization. LSU and Wisconsin led all schools with three first-team selections, while Ohio State led the way overall with five first- and second-team honorees (two on the first team, three on the second). LSU ended up with four overall, while Clemson had three (two first team, one second).
LSU and OSU were also one-two at the quarterback position, with Joe Burrow, also named the Camp Player of the Year, earning first-team honors and Justin Fields being the second-team selection.
Conference-wise, the Big Ten’s 15 selections on both teams led the way, followed by the SEC’s 13 and Pac-12’s seven. All told, eight of the 10 FBS conferences are represented — the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State (wide receiver Omar Bayless) claimed its first-ever Camp All-American — while 32 different schools claimed spots on one of the two teams. Two of those schools, Florida Atlantic (tight end Harrison Bryant) and Boise State (defensive end Curtis Weaver), had their first-ever first-team Camp All-Americans.
The AAC and MAC were the only FBS conferences without a player selected.
Individually, two players repeated as first-team All-Americans — Wisconsin running back and Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor, LSU safety and Jim Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit. Taylor is actually a three-time Camp All-American as he was named to the second team as a true freshman in 2017.
Delpit’s teammate, defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., is the only freshman among the 51 All-Americans.
Wednesday, Mike Norvell confirmed the identity of his offensive coordinator at Florida State. A day later, it was the coordinator on the other side of the ball who was identified.
In what amounts to a reunion after a very brief time apart, Norvell announced Thursday that, as had been speculated, Adam Fuller has been hired as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. Fuller spent the 2019 season in the same position for Norvell at Memphis.
“We are so very excited about the addition of Adam Fuller to the Florida State football family,” Norvell said. “Adam is one of the top defensive minds in college football and has been a part of developing some of the most productive defensive units in the nation throughout his career. Coach Fuller will bring an aggressive and detailed approach to our Seminole defense. It will put our great student-athletes in a position to showcase all their skills and talents while being developed at the highest level.
“Adam has recruited the state of Florida, specifically the Tampa area, throughout his career, which will assist in fostering relationships throughout the state. I am excited to see him elevate our Florida State defense back to one of the nation’s elite.”
Memphis was Fuller’s second coordinating job at the FBS level. The first came at Marshall the year before.
“My family and I are very excited to join the Seminole program,” Fuller said. “The history and tradition of Florida State’s defense brings a major responsibility. I look forward to embracing the pride that comes along with that.”
Fuller and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham are the second and third FSU staff additions for Norvell. The first was Odell Haggins, who served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach after Willie Taggart was fired and was quickly retained by the new head coach.