On the day before Georgia kicks off spring practice and preparation for its August 30 home opener against Clemson, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt received bad news in the arrest of four players on 'theft by deception' charges.
Four Georgia football players were arrested Monday night and charged with multiple counts of misdemeanor theft by deception, according to Athens-Clarke County jail records and a report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Three of the players were depositing their regularly-scheduled stipend checks on their mobile phone banking apps, then taking them to a local convenience story for cashing immediately afterward, effective cashing the checks twice, according to UGA police. One other player, wide receiver Uriah LeMay, was retrieving a roommate’s already-cashed check and and cashing it at a convenience store.
LeMay was charged with four counts of theft by deception. His bond was set at $6,000, jail records show. Tray Matthews, a safety and projected starter, was charged with three counts of theft by deception. His bond was set at $4,500.
Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach, defensive linemen, were each charged with two counts of theft by deception. Bonds for both Taylor and DeLoach were set at $3,000.
Taylor was the first of the four booked into jail Monday at 8:41 p.m., booking records show. By 9:22 p.m., the remaining three were also in jail. All four were released before 11 p.m. Within two hours, all four players were released on bond, booking records show.
“I’m aware of the situation and it will be handled in an appropriate way,” Richt said in a statement.
Georgia's spring practice, which begins this afternoon, is particularly important for Bulldogs' defensive players, as Richt revamped his entire defensive coaching staff after last season.
In his pre-spring press conference last week, Richt talked the challenges facing the Bulldogs on the defensive side of the ball.
The biggest challenge, he said, "is Just the fact that everybody is learning."
"We always use the term playing fast," Richt said. "Guys can play fast when they really know what they're doing. In the learning process, first you learn what to do, and that's good but then you have to learn how to do it. Then you have to experience it over and over until it becomes second nature, and then you can play fast.
"I'm sure there is going to be some hesitancy through the learning process, and not because guys aren't tough or aggressive, but they're just not 100 percent sure of what to do. Until everybody gets comfortable with what to do, it's going to be hard to play extremely fast.
"We know that we don't have to win a game this spring, so we're going to expose them to as much as we possibly can within the system, knowing that they probably won't be perfect right now. If they get through that learning process in the spring, then all summer long we can be thinking on it and studying it and learning it."
The Bulldogs will open spring practice with numerous players on the sidelines, including running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, tight end Jay Rome and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who missed all of last season after suffering an ACL injury in the Bulldogs' opener at Clemson.
"Todd has still been bothered by the (ankle) injury that he had, so I really don't know what to expect from him in the spring," Richt said. "Jay (foot injury) may be able to do some things before spring is over, but I don't think he'll be able to do much. Malcolm has made a lot of progress. He may be able to run some routes and maybe do some pass skeletons somewhere along the way, but I doubt he'll get anywhere near to a contact drill."
Marshall, who is rehabbing an ACL injury suffered against Tennessee last October, will not participate in spring drills, nor will wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, who tore his ACL in the same game.
The Bulldogs will hold their G-Day spring game on Saturday, April 12.