By Marq Burnett, Anniston Star
TUSCALOOSA — The questions were inevitable.
Alabama signed the top recruiting class for the 2015 cycle Wednesday, according to 247Sports and ESPN.com rankings, but one particular member in the class was a big topic of discussion during Nick Saban’s afternoon news conference – Jonathan Taylor.
He arrives at Alabama having been dismissed from the University of Georgia this past July. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the dismissal came after Taylor was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault/family violence. A University of Georgia police department report alleged Taylor used his hands to choke and hit his girlfriend.
Jonathan Taylor (UGA)
Jonathan Taylor (UGA)
After Saban delivered his opening statement in which he thank everyone involved, detailed how the Tide addressed needs and once again took a shot at recruiting rankings, it was time for the coach to take questions.
The first question posed was why Saban would sign a player with pending domestic violence charges for allegedly hitting and choking a woman.
Saban called it a “university decision” and stated that it was a “decision that got made by a lot of people here.”
“We recruited this young man out of high school, and we felt that from what we knew about him, what his high school coach said, what the people at the school that he was at said about him, and where he came from in junior college, that he was the kind of guy that deserved a second chance,” Saban said. “But with that chance, we also have stipulations of things that he needs to do from a personal development standpoint so that he won’t make any kind of mistake like this ever again.
“That’s an ongoing process with him, and that’s something that we continue to monitor, and he has done a very good job with.”
But Taylor essentially received a “second chance” from Georgia, as the domestic violence charge was his second arrest in 2014.
In March, Taylor was one of four Georgia football players charged with theft by deception after they were caught double-cashing meal reimbursement checks, according to the AJC. Taylor was granted pretrial diversion on those charges, but his second arrest violated those terms, according to the AJC.
Saban said Alabama doesn’t condone any type of disrespect or violence, especially toward women. Alabama, like other college programs, brings in speakers to educate players on domestic violence and other issues.
“There is some occasion to not condemn them for life, but to give them another chance,” Saban said. “It’s up to them to prove that they deserve that chance. And when they get that opportunity, they need to definitely do their very best to take advantage of it. This is the decision that we made. I know the sensitivity of the issue, and we’re going to do what we can to help this young man have success here and not have issues anymore.”