Several University of Florida football players were involved in a bizarre confrontation with a supposed local gambler. According to a Gainesville Police report obtained by First Coast News, tight end C’yontai Lewis, wide receiver Kadarius Toney, defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, wide receiver Rick Wells, tight end Kemore Gamble, and quarterback Emory Jones were part of a group that confronted Devante’ “Tay Bang” Zachery outside of a dorm complex on the UF campus on May 28.
Video apparently shows the players, after initially leaving the scene, returning with what were described as assault rifles, though investigators later learned that they were in fact airsoft guns painted black. (Toney and Campbell were later allegedly to have held the guns.) The players also were shown carrying rocks and even a frying pan, which was left at the scene and later dusted for fingerprints. No charges have been filed and police say they consider the case to be closed.
Zachery told police that the feud started with an argument that took place at a local club in February. Initially, things began with some “joking around,” though they escalated over the next few months. Lewis told the cops that he had a good relationship with Zachery until he began to accost Florida players for losing games that he had bet on.
According to the report, the football players returned after telling Zachery’s group they were “coming back strapped.” Allegedly, one of Zachery’s friends menaced the football players with a baseball bat, while another pointed a red laser at one of their chests. Zachery apparently called First Coast News and told them they were only telling one side of the story, though he refused to share his. Cops also said they didn’t completely believe Zachery.
Cleveland, Wells, Gamble, Jones, Toney, and Campbell were all recommended to UF’s Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution department, and the school declined to elaborate on what, if any, discipline they faced. Florida coach Dan Mullen released a short statement on the importance of avoiding bad PR. “This has been an opportunity for us to educate our players about the dangers and negative perceptions that can occur when conflict arises, and how important honesty and good decision making is,” it read.
In other Gator news, four-star recruit Justin Watkins was arrested in Alachua County and charged with felony counts of kidnapping/false imprisonment and domestic battery by strangulation as well as two misdemeanor counts of domestic battery, per ESPN. An arrest report obtained by WCJB says that Watkins held a woman down on his bed and punched her multiple times, then choked her and barricaded her in his dorm room. She only escaped after macing him. This is Watkins’s second arrest in three months for attacking a woman, as he also was arrested in May for allegedly following a woman to a gas station after an argument and breaking her cellphone and trying to kick out one of her tires. He’s been suspended from team activities.