ATHENS – James DeLoach’s “foolish mistake” could have meant the end of his time at Georgia. It did for his three teammates, at least eventually.
DeLoach, on the other hand, has made it a footnote. And a small one.
It was spring of 2014 when DeLoach and three then-teammates – Tray Matthews, Jonathan Taylor and Uriah LeMay – were arrested for double-cashing scholarship checks from UGA. They all ended up taking pre-trial intervention. The only one still left at Georgia is DeLoach, who has blossomed as a senior this season, and has been a team captain two straight weeks.
“I didn’t want that to be my name out there, bad like that,” DeLoach said of the arrest. “That’s why I continued to work hard up until today.”
DeLoach could reunite with Matthews on Saturday; Matthews, a safety, transferred to Auburn after more run-ins off the field, including an incident with a professor during class.
Taylor, who was DeLoach’s classmate at Jenkins County High School, ran into more serious trouble, two separate arrests for domestic violence. He’s at a junior college as his Athens court cases still await adjudication.
LeMay transferred a couple months after the cash-checking. He’s at Charlotte now, where he has six catches in seven games this season.
DeLoach, who didn’t play much his first two seasons at Georgia, has come on lately, notching two tackles-for-loss last Saturday against Kentucky.
“It was good to see him just really show up and make some big plays and overcome some of the obstacles early on,” coach Mark Richt said.
Richt said he always knew DeLoach could get past the check-cashing incident; in fact DeLoach wasn’t suspended for it.
“He made a foolish mistake; all those guys did,” Richt said. “It wasn’t the worst thing in the world that ever happened. But it was not wise and certainly wrong. But once they go through their discipline, if they learn from it it’s a very good thing.”
Asked if he had a sense that the coaches didn’t give up on him, so he had to live up to it, DeLoach said: “Yes sir.”
“It feels good to be able to contribute,” he said. “I’m not gonna say that it was tough (waiting) because all those years I just learned through different experiences what to do in certain situations, what not to do. I guess it’s helped me up till today.”