Taylor implicated in brawl

ATHENS – A walk-on Georgia football player faces misdemeanor assault charges after an incident on Lake Allatoona in Canton.

Tripp Taylor, a defensive linemen known best by Bulldog fans as the Wham back in the team's short-yardage formation, was one of two men charged in relation to a May 25 fight that featured up to 25 participants and/or witnesses, said Sgt. Jay Baker, a spokesman for the Cherokee County sheriff's department.

"It's taken us this long to interview everyone who might have been there or everyone who might have been involved," Baker said. "We've sifted through all that information, and we feel we have enough evidence to bring these charges. We're confident that the charges we've brought will hold up in court."

A 16-year-old and 17-year-old reported they were attacked by the 20-year-old Taylor and 19-year-old Shane McCleskey. The incident involved a knife and a baseball bat, according to some participants and witnesses, Baker said. One of the alleged victims suffered a fracture of the orbital bone around his eye.

"It's not just a little fight," Baker said. "We're confident that alcohol was involved."

McCleskey was charged with aggravated battery, a felony, and battery. He was a sophomore wide receiver at Murray State in Kentucky until Monday, when he was dismissed from the team by head coach Matt Griffin.

Georgia coach Mark Richt is aware of the incident but has made no announcement on a penalty for Taylor and won't until he has more facts or the charges are addressed in court, said Claude Felton, an athletic department spokesman. Taylor was expected to turn himself in to Cherokee County authorities on Monday, Baker said.

Taylor, a graduate of Woodstock High School, was named the Bulldogs' outstanding defensive walk-on after spring practice this year. He is listed as a second-team defensive tackle.

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