As Florida prepares for the start of the season on the field, one off-field imbroglio hasn’t quite gone away just yet.
One of five members of the Florida football program, including four players, accused of violence against women since Dan Mullen took over following the 2017 regular season, John Huggins was dismissed by the Gators after allegations from October of last year surfaced that he choked a 19-year-old female student who had confiscated his cell phone prior to a tutoring session. Just three days later, a UF official confirmed that the defensive back’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.
According to Huggins’ attorney, Ron Kozlowski, the police report filed in connection to the alleged choking, while accurate in general, is “inaccurate… in one critical place.” From the Tampa Bay Times:
Kozlowski said the tutoring sessions took place in a “light, playful atmosphere.” The University of Florida Police Department report that accused Huggins of battery mentions a previous incident in which an unnamed player braided the tutor’s hair.
Kozlowski said that context is key in understanding Huggins’ version of events of the Oct. 1 incident. The tutor took away Huggins’ phone to make sure that he would return to the lesson, which he often failed to do. Kozlowski said the woman’s remarks were done in a joking manner, and Huggins responded by joking back and putting his hands around her “the way, if you had a sister when you were a kid, you might do.”
Police observed no marks on the tutor’s neck, and she told police she could breathe the entire time.
“Absolutely no malicious intent whatsoever,” Kozlowski said. “He did not choke her.
As previously reported, the alleged victim declined to pursue criminal charges against Huggins. “[S]he wrote in her sworn statement to police that she was ‘more worried about his studies’ than in pressing charges,” the Times wrote.
The attorney added that, given that “the media attention had become so intense,” his client was in complete agreement with the parting of ways with 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 being sidelined following the alleged incident with the tutor.
Prior to the off-field issue coming to light, Huggins had been expected to play an expanded role in Florida’s ever-thinning secondary this coming season.