Former Alabama, Georgia player Taylor enters not guilty plea

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Jonathan Taylor wants to put his troubled past behind him and earn a third chance to play major college football.

The former Alabama and Georgia defensive tackle has been arrested three times since March 14 - twice on domestic abuse charges, though the accuser in Taylor's latest incident recanted her allegations and the other case is still pending resolution.

Taylor, 21, entered a not guilty plea during an arraignment Tuesday in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court on felony assault and misdemeanor battery charges. Police said he choked and hit his girlfriend with a closed fist in a Georgia dorm room last summer.

Judge Patrick Haggard told Taylor and attorney Kim Stephens that a status conference is scheduled June 30 with District Attorney Ken Mauldin.

All of this has left the 6-foot-4, 335-pound Taylor without a football home.

He was kicked off Georgia's football team last July. After signing with Alabama in January, Taylor was dismissed by the Crimson Tide following his arrest 10 days ago in Tuscaloosa, after which the woman who brought the charges said she made the whole thing up.

Stephens said his client has been in touch with a few college programs in hopes of getting an opportunity to continue his football career, but would not disclose the schools' names.

''I'm not involved in the football side of things, but he's anxious to get back in school, continue his education and obviously, like so many kids, has aspirations to play professionally,'' Stephens said. ''But whether that will happen or not is a different question. I'm sure it will depend on several things, including the outcome of this case as well as his talent level.''

The woman who recanted charges - identified in court documents as 24-year-old Gina Marie Nawab - was charged with false reporting to law enforcement, telling police that the bruises on her neck were self-inflicted and damage to a door in her apartment was already there.

Nawab told Tuscaloosa police that she lied after getting upset that Taylor might have cheated on her.

Stephens, who said the Georgia accuser is a different woman, doubts that Mauldin's office will attempt to use the Tuscaloosa case against Taylor.

''They'd have a hard time getting it in the evidence, but certainly it didn't help in trying to negotiate a resolution to the (Georgia) case because the D.A.'s office tends the side with accusers as opposed to defendants when you're talking about recantations,'' Stephens said.

The AP does not routinely identify people who say they are victims of domestic abuse.

Taylor, a former four-star prospect from Jenkins County (Ga.) High School, declined to speak with reporters on Tuesday.

Taylor's first arrest was on March 17, 2014 in Athens for illegal check-cashing. He and three other Georgia players were charged with misdemeanor theft by deception after receiving double payments on checks of $71.50 issued by the Georgia athletic department.

Last July 22, he was arrested for allegedly beating up his girlfriend at McWhorter Hall, and Bulldogs coach Mark Richt dismissed him off the team.

After spending last season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Mississippi, Taylor lasted only three months at Alabama.

Stephens said Taylor is focused now on trying to get his life back in order.

''We're glad to see the process finally starting so the whole story and the whole picture can come out, eventually,'' Stephens said. ''Whether it be some resolution where we can work something out with the D.A.'s office or whether we end up going to trial, we're anxious to see that all the sides of the story come to light.''

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