Florida Gators freshman Justin Watkins was arrested Tuesday, and charged with four counts — two felony, two misdemeanor — related to the alleged strangulation of a woman, per Alachua County court records.
Watkins has also been suspended from team activities by Florida coach Dan Mullen, per a statement provided to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports, who was first to report the news of Watkins’s arrest.
Watkins, a four-star recruit who was likely to compete for a spot as a reserve defensive back this fall, was booked into the Alachua County Jail on Tuesday, and remains in custody per records available online.
Watkins faces two misdemeanor counts of battery, one third-degree felony count of false imprisonment, and one third-degree felony count of domestic battery by strangulation, per Alachua County court records. Scant few other details are available via those records, though they do list the arresting agency as the University Police Department, suggesting Watkins was at least arrested on Florida’s campus.
This is not Watkins’s first alleged crime since signing with Florida in February. He was arrested in May in his native Marion County and charged with trespassing at a high school he did not attend after, per a police report, shattering a woman’s cell phone following an argument, following her to that high school, and kicking her car.
Marion County court records suggest a development in that case came in mid-June, but the related documents are not available online.
Faced with Watkins dealing with a second run-in with the law involving domestic violence in the span of three months, Mullen could conceivably wait for all the facts to come out and weigh Watkins’s potential to help Florida (and Florida’s potential to help Watkins) against the danger he may present to others and the significant damage to Florida’s image keeping him would bring.
Mullen could also do the right thing and dismiss Watkins, because there ought not to be room on any Florida roster for someone who would visit violence upon others — outside of, say, self-defense — beyond a field of play, because Florida’s responsibility to Watkins is not so great as to continue affording him the privilege of being a Gator when he has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to not endanger those around him, and because being immature enough to even be arrested twice for alleged domestic violence — regardless of the ultimate adjudication of those cases — means Watkins has failed to meet a reasonable standard of behavior for a Florida Gator.
I’m rooting for Mullen to realize that, too.