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More Legal Trouble For UGA Football: Ramifications

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Tray Matthews (No. 28) is the most prominent player involved in a recent legal incident that included four Georgia players. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.
Tray Matthews (No. 28) is the most prominent player involved in a recent legal incident that included four Georgia players. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

The initial report as released in the overnight hours says that four Georgia football players were arrested for “theft by deception.” The charges are against wide receiver Uriah LeMay, safety Tray Matthews, defensive lineman John Taylor, and outside linebacker James DeLoach.

Cops are saying that these four players “double-dipped” on depositing university stipend checks. Meaning they first deposited the checks using mobile apps and then later tried to physically cash them in.

The good news for the players is that it’s a misdemeanor and they likely will face suspensions and not dismissal. However, bad news is that it happened on the eve of the start to the Bulldogs spring practice season. For three of these players that’s not good news, especially given the quotes from new UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt two weeks ago.

“This spring our No. 1 goal is to find out who (are) the right guys to be coaching,” Pruitt said. “We’re gonna work on fundamentals, we’re gonna see who’s going to practice hard every day, and who can carry out some details. Then we’ll figure out that and we’ll figure out who (are) the best guys to be coaching this fall.”

So if you read into that, players who likely will be missing time will not endear themselves to Pruitt. This is pretty disappointing, especially for a guy like Matthews. You see, Matthews was the talk of Athens coming out of last spring as an early enrollee freshman. Then, in 2013 he went on to start six games for the Bulldogs, including a 12-tackle game against Auburn. Now this means that players like Quincy Mauger, Corey Moore and newly-converted safety Tramel Terry likely will get a head start on Matthews in the eyes of Pruitt.

It could mean even more bad news for defensive lineman John Taylor as he tries to break into the crowded defensive line rotation on a more regular basis. That means Chris Mayes likely will be able to distance himself from Taylor in the battle for the starting nose tackle spot. Also just like Matthews has to contend with in the secondary, Taylor needed to impress his new position coach. Defensive line coach Chris Wilson left for Southern Cal and Tracy Rocker comes in to coach that position group. You have to believe that like Pruitt, Rocker has the same mindset this spring about finding which players he needs to concern himself with the most.

Outside linebacker James DeLoach also is trying to get into the rotation at outside linebacker and like Matthews, also had a very nice spring in 2013. However, come fall, a hand injury forced him to miss some time and that allowed Leonard Floyd to take over the majority of the plays at his outside linebacker spot. Plus with a new defensive coaching staff, he’s also not grabbing much trust out of them.

As for redshirt freshman wide receiver Uriah LeMay, he’s facing four counts on this theft charge. This includes him allegedly stealing his roommates' check and attempting to cash it in. Plus, LeMay is trying to get playing time this season and that wasn’t going to be easy, even without legal troubles. That’s because he has to contend with Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley (suspended for at least one game). So LeMay still needed to prove himself in the spring to receivers coach Tony Ball. With LeMay facing the most charges in this case, he might need to worry about staying on the Georgia Bulldogs football team.

This is now the third known offseason legal situation head coach Mark Richt and program has faced. Many are right now pointing to the “lack of control” under the coach, including ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who recently ripped the program for such incidents occurring on a regular basis.

“Clearly some of the UGA players take advantage of Coach Richt’s forgiving heart,” Herbstreit said via Twitter. “No fear of the consequences leads to on-going shenanigans.”

Before this tweet, Herbstreit had posted a link to a story about the four arrests, typing that he was “dumpfounded how this seems to happen at UGA every year.”

Georgia fans and many college football fans remember the now-famous Steve Spurrier quote about playing Georgia early in the season.

“I sort of always liked playing them that second game of the season because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended,” Spurrier said to ESPN.com in April of 2012.

Lucky for Spurrier, he gets the Bulldogs on Sept. 13 in Columbia. That's Georgia’s second game of the season, so this likely means that UGA will indeed have two or three key players out for that game.