As signing day approaches, DawgNation speaks to the coaches of several top remaining targets for Georgia for a closer look at what makes them special.
In 10 days, the top prospect in Georgia, linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) will announce his college decision and sign a letter of intent with the program of his choice. Although it was thought to be a two-team fight between archrivals Florida and Georgia, Harvey-Clemons’ grandfather, Woodrow Clemons, confirmed this weekend from Tallahassee that the "photo finish" between the Dawgs and Gators was now a three-team race that includes FSU.
Harvey-Clemons did everything he could to help the Vikings his senior year, making 105 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions on defense, while also rushing for 159 yards and three touchdowns and making 12 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown on offense. According to Lowndes assistant head coach/linebackers coach Terry Quinn, Harvey-Clemons has been a Swiss Army knife for his team.
“We played him all over the field,” Quinn said. “We lined him up on offense at Wildcat quarterback and a 6-foot-5, 205-pound receiver -- and he was a big-time weapon for us.
"We lost three guys in the secondary a year ago, so we plugged him in at safety even though he had an outstanding year at linebacker as a junior. He made three interceptions and led the team in tackles, but he was making all of the tackles 10 yards downfield, so we moved him 5 yards closer about halfway through the season, and let him go to work. That was home for him, and he felt very comfortable in that linebacker spot. We used him sometimes to return kicks as well; he is just a special type of talent.”
As is often the case with the next generation of talent, Harvey-Clemons has been likened by many in South Georgia to another recent Lowndes standout.
“Everybody wants to compare him to Telvin Smith, and although they are both big-time players, they are also two different linebackers,” Quinn said. “Telvin has that big motor, but Josh is just a freak of an athlete.”
That holds true in other sports, too. Harvey-Clemons scored 16 points in the basketball game Friday before leaving for his official visit to Florida State. He also ran in the 1600-meter relay at the state track meet last year. That elite level of athleticism has coaches at the next level practically foaming at the mouth.
“All of the colleges are jumping up and down for him because they know what he can do,” Quinn said. “I talk to Florida and Georgia, and they say he is a dream come true. You plug him at outside linebacker in that 3-4 defense and he can cover a running back, rush the passer or drop back in coverage. He has the frame to play at over 230 pounds, and the sky is the limit as far as his potential, because he can do it all.”
While Harvey-Clemons' interest in playing for the in-state school is a strong selling point for Georgia, he has just as many connections to schools south of the Peach State. He has wanted to play for the Gators since playing with Greg Reid for the Boys and Girls Club. Their team, called the Gators, went head to head with the Seminoles, who were led by Tyler Hunter. (It's important to note here that both Reid and Hunter now play for the Florida State Seminoles.)
Because of his low-key nature, no one would know by talking to Harvey-Clemons that he is the No. 17 prospect in the nation. The same could be said about his recruitment, as the Valdosta native has given few hints throughout the process as to what school he has favored. He waited until this month to admit that Florida and Georgia were on top.
“Josh is so quiet, his grandfather has been talking more recently,” Quinn said. “I think Josh is still trying to decide, and although the ball will be in his court for him to decide, I think his family will have some impact as well."
Woodrow told DawgNation last week that, even though the Bulldogs said they had no plans to redshirt Harvey-Clemons, he felt Florida’s depth chart might be more favorable than Georgia’s. Quinn does not see that having a major impact, regardless of where Harvey-Clemons ends up.
“I think early playing time is important, but even if one school has more linebackers coming back, Josh is the type of kid that will be hard to keep off the field,” Quinn said. “He can help on special teams and in nickel formations; he is just too valuable to not find a way to use him next fall.”