UGA’s DeLoach focused on football, staying out of trouble

Georgia’s James DeLoach said he’s down to 276 pounds from the 295 at which he played during spring practice just four months ago. Whether that had anything to do with the internal team discipline with which he was subjected, he didn’t say.

“Oh, yes, sir. I had to do a lot of running,” said DeLoach, flashing only the tiniest semblance of a grin.

DeLoach, a junior defensive end from Millen, spoke with reporters after practice on Sunday. It was the first time he had been permitted to speak with the media since his March arrest for theft by deception.

DeLoach was one of the four football players caught up in that check-cashing scheme and is now the only one still remaining on Georgia’s football team.

He’s also a best friend since childhood of Jonathan Taylor, who was also involved in that incident. Taylor was then dismissed by Georgia coach Mark Richt after Taylor’s arrest for aggravated assault/family violence last month. Safety Tray Matthews has since been dismissed and Uriah LeMay transferred to another school.

The Bulldogs announced earlier this summer that DeLoach would be subjected to internal discipline for his transgression and would not be suspended for any games this season. As of Sunday, it appears DeLoach could start Aug. 30 against Clemson.

On Sunday, DeLoach expressed remorse over the events that landed him in hot water and concern for a lifelong friend who finds himself at an unexpected crossroads. The fact that DeLoach did not decline requests to be interviewed seemed cathartic.

“I just dedicate my time to learning the plays, learning the playbook and just basically not being in an environment that would allow me to get into a situation that would get me involved in any more trouble,” DeLoach said. “I’m going to hang out with my defensive line and all of us will just grow together and bond.”

DeLoach said he has talked a lot to Richt and “really all the people in the athletic facility that have anything to do with football” about the incidents of the last few months.

“We’re just going to work through this thing together and put it behind us,” he said.

As for Taylor, DeLoach has remained his one final vestige of a connection to the team. He said they talk “every day” and he has made it a point to remain a friend to him.

“He’s been there for me,” DeLoach said. “He’s been my childhood friend, we’ve done everything together, he’s like my big brother.”

Hesaid he expects Taylor to eventually wind up at another school. “I’m pretty sure he is; he’s gotten a lot of calls from different coaches.”

In the meantime, DeLoach is usually lining up with the first team at defensive end and will be counted to be a productive part of the line rotation.

“I’m just going to continue to get better,” said DeLoach, who has eight career tackles in 18 games, primarily on special teams. “We don’t have a set depth chart, as Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt has said many of times since the start of camp. So I’ve just got to keep pushing myself and keep getting better along with my defensive line.”