True freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons thought he would come in and be a playmaker on defense right away.
Evan Stichler/UGA Sports Communications
Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was named special teams captain for Georgia's game at Kentucky on Oct. 20.
Instead, the young safety was only getting action on special teams, which is something he wasn’t ready to do at first.
“I like it now. At first I was like, ‘Man, I don’t want to play on special teams. I want to be on defense,’” Harvey-Clemons said. “But coach (Mark Richt) really stresses how important special teams are. (I enjoy) going out there and being with the fellas. It’s good to actually get a chance to be out there on something.”
After he humbled himself, the next adjustment he had to make was from his recruited position at outside linebacker to safety because of his size.
Harvey-Clemons played the first half of his senior year at Lowndes at the safety position and had no qualms about moving back into the secondary.
“It wasn’t really that big of a deal,” he said. “I already knew I was going to have to play another position because I wasn’t at the right weight to be a linebacker.”
The 6-foot-5, 207-pound Valdosta native has no preference between the two positions because of perks that each spot can provide.
“I kind of like both worlds,” he said. “I like getting picks, and at the same time, I like coming up and making big hits. I’m just trying to get better at safety more than anything right now.”
The freshman safety is benefiting from playing behind an All-American safety in Bacarri Rambo and a seasoned veteran in Shawn Williams.
“It’s great because they know the most because they’ve been here four years,” Harvey-Clemons said. “Seeing how they play, the way they do things and the way they communicate out there on defense is going to do nothing but make me better in the long run.”
His performance on special teams earned him a distinction that no true freshman has held since former linebacker Rennie Curran in 2007.
Harvey-Clemons was named special teams captain for the Oct. 20 road matchup against Kentucky.
“I was shocked because I haven’t heard of a freshman to get it at first,” he said. “I was kind of surprised when he gave it to me.”
Richt selects captains during his first staff meeting with coaches the week following a game.
“I’ll say, ‘Offense, what do you think?’ And (offensive coordinator Mike) Bobo will call out two or three candidates. Then I’ll choose from those candidates,” Richt said. “Then I’ll ask defense. Then (defensive coordinator Todd) Grantham will name a few names and I’ll choose from that. Then I’ll ask for special teams.”
Richt said selecting Harvey-Clemons “was a big deal,” and that class rank holds no value when a player’s performance justifies it.
“Josh is on three special teams and every single coach that coaches the teams that he’s on, they all mentioned him doing a good job,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Well if he did the best job for everybody then he deserves to be captain.’ I don’t care if he’s a true freshman or not. It’s just not that often that a true freshman would get that honor, and it is an honor.”
After Harvey-Clemons shared the good news with his grandmother, she told him to take advantage of this opportunity.
“It’s a lot of extra motivation,” Harvey-Clemons said. “My granny told me to keep working. If special teams is the way (to see time on defense), then that’s what I’ve got to do.”
With with a bye this week, the Bulldogs will continue to distance themselves from the 35-7 loss on the road against South Carolina last weekend.
“The mood at practice has been real good. You would kind of expect everybody to mope around,” Harvey-Clemons said. “Everybody seems to have gotten over it and we’re moving on. We’re looking forward to get better.”