Last weekend, the top prospect in Georgia, linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes), was in Athens to check out the Bulldogs on an official visit. Harvey-Clemons took an official to Florida in December, and it appears that a Bulldogs versus Gators battle is brewing for the Army All-American. Having been to Georgia with his family three times, Harvey-Clemons had already seen most of what Athens has to offer. What caught the Valdosta native off-guard was seeing how well the players were rewarded for their successful season.
“We were excited and surprised by the number of gifts the athletes receive for winning the SEC East and going to the bowl game,” said Woodrow Clemons, Josh’s grandfather and adoptive parent. “They get new watches, iPads, tote bags and several other items. I was very impressed with that.”
With the two neighboring programs being so comparable, it was tough to determine a leader. So Josh and his family inquired about where each program would play him and evaluated what each program will offer on the gridiron next season.
“Education wise, it is pretty equal between Florida and Georgia,” Woodrow said. “They are two top schools in the Southeast. We tried to find out about immediate playing time and what positions, and both Florida and Georgia indicated they want him at outside linebacker and receiver in the red zone. Georgia also guaranteed that he would not be redshirted.”
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham spent a lot of time explaining how Harvey-Clemons -- who made 105 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions for the Vikings as a senior -- would be used at the next level. What Harvey-Clemons saw on film was that his role in Athens would be a familiar one.
“We spent over an hour watching film with Coach Grantham, and he illustrated with diagrams how they use Alec Ogletree and Brandon Boykin on the rush and in pass coverage,” Woodrow said. “Then they pulled up footage of Lowndes, and they showed us how Josh was basically doing the exact same thing, He was covering receivers off the line and out of the backfield, and showing how he is able to cover a lot of ground in the open space to make plays.”
According to his grandfather, one school has a more favorable depth chart at the moment.
“Georgia said that they need him, but they look pretty deep in linebackers to me,” Woodrow said. “Florida, based on what they were left by the previous staff, has a more physical need in my opinion at the linebacker position. Florida is rebuilding. We were able to watch them in practice when we went down there, so we were able to get a visual on their immediate need at outside linebacker. He could probably get some significant playing time at linebacker as well as receiver. Their depth chart is not as deep as Georgia’s was at the time we saw Florida.”
Woodrow said his highly coveted son likes aspects of both programs.
“Josh likes the opportunity of playing time at Florida, the proximity of Valdosta to the Florida campus, and he enjoys spending time with the coaching staff there,” Woodrow said. “They have probably been recruiting him the hardest.
“Josh thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Georgia. Being a part of the Bulldog Nation and playing for the in-state school appeals to Josh. He would love that opportunity. I think they have turned their program around, and they seem to be committed to winning now. Last year’s signees have played a big role as well, and Josh can tell the future is bright there.”
Before Harvey-Clemons left Athens, Woodrow says Georgia hoped for some good news.
“Coach [Mark] Richt tried to get him to commit,” Woodrow said. “I told Coach Richt, Coach [Mike] Bobo and [Florida] coach [Will] Muschamp, it looks to be a photo finish between Florida and Georgia. It will all come down to what is best for him and his family. We do not want to send him off without being able to support him and watch him play.”
Other schools wasted little time catching up with the No. 35 prospect in the country upon his return from Athens. Four FSU coaches, including defensive coordinator Mark Stoops and linebackers coach Greg Hudson, had lunch Monday with Josh and his grandparents. Woodrow got a call from Muschamp as soon as the family returned from Athens, and he has already been to church with the family as well. Coach Richt is expected to visit with the Clemons family next week.
“Brian White has gone to church with us a couple times as well,” Woodrow said. “Coach Muschamp is supposed to come back down on the 25th, which is next Wednesday.”
To Woodrow’s knowledge, no one from Lowndes has every played for Florida. Will that change in the next two weeks?