Players’ arrests came on eve of first spring practice

ATHENS – On the eve of Georgia's first spring football practice of the year, four players were arrested and jailed on charges of theft by deception.

Sophomore safety Tray Matthews, junior outside linebacker James DeLoach, redshirt freshman receiver Uriah LeMay and redshirt sophomore defensive end Jonathan Taylor all were booked into Athens-Clarke County jail around 9 p.m. Monday on multiple counts of the same misdemeanor charge, 11 counts totals.  All were released on bonds of $1,500 per count 10:30 p.m, or roughly 17 1/2 hours before the Bulldogs’ first practice of the spring period.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned that the arrests were made by UGA Police and the victim in each case is the UGA Athletic Association. No other details were immediately available Monday night.

“Theft by deception” is defined as “the property of another is obtained through deceit,” according to georgiadefenders.com. But there are a number of crimes in the state of Georgia that can fall under that broad definition of theft. Reference.com explains it this way:

"A person uses deceit to acquire property, money or services from another individual, group of individuals or a business. A person may commit theft by deception intentionally or on accident, and the law and subsequent penalties are applied to cases where an individual deceived to obtain a service, or deceives to sell a service they have no intention of fulfilling to another party. In instances of service theft using deception, unlawfully obtaining or selling a service, or presenting false identification on a contract or intentionally writing a bad check knowing that sufficient funds do not exist to cover the amount of the check all qualify as deceptive practices under the law."

In the state of Georgia, the fact that the players were charged with misdemeanors indicate the are value of the service or property is less than $500. Such crimes are punishable by up to 18 months in a county jail. More severe offenses, involving monetary values over $500 are considered felony crimes with a maximum sentence of 10 years in a state prison.

No details are going to be available until police can comment on the matter Tuesday. In the meantime, all four players are/were expected to play a significant role this coming season:

Matthews is expected to start at safety. The 6-foot, 205-pound sophomore had 36 tackles, an interception and forced a fumble in eight games with six starts as a true freshman last season.

DeLoach, a 6-3, 265-pound junior, is considered one of Georgia’s best strongside outside linebacker (Sam), but rarely gets on the field. He’s played in 18 games the last two seasons with 8 tackles.

Taylor, a 6-4, 336-pound redshirt sophomore, is expected to compete for the starting job at noseguard. He played in 10 games last season with 9 tackles.

LeMay, a 6-foot-2, 197-pound redshirt freshman, was described by fellow wideout Michael Bennett recently as a young player to look out for this spring. He’s expected to get a lot of reps with Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley still sidelined with injuries.

More on this Tuesday. Georgia’s first practice is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m.