Thomasville Times Enterprise

February 18, 2014

Kramer: Blame Harvey-Clemons, not UGA policy

Valdosta native dismissed from Georgia

Daniel Kramer


Josh Harvey-Clemons’ beleaguered Georgia career has come to an end.

The junior safety and nickel back was dismissed on Tuesday for a violation of team rules, according to coach Mark Richt.

Harvey-Clemons, the five-star recruit out of Lowndes County in 2011, played in 25 games during his two years in Athens, of which he started 11. He was a a focal figure  on a Georgia defense that struggled mightily last year  with an interception, two fumble recoveries and 66 tackles, good for third on the team.

It’s a sour ending for a player who had great potential, but this isn’t his first run in with trouble. 

Harvey-Clemons was already in the course of serving his second suspension in eight months, which would’ve allegedly kept him out of the first three games of the 2014 season. The first stemmed from a UGA police report in June that cited Harvey-Clemons admitting to smoking marijuana in a campus dorm. There was no confirmation to the second infraction, though multiple media reports signaled a failed drug test.

Georgia’s drug policy – across all 19 men’s and women’s sports – calls for suspension of 10 percent of the season for the first violation (one game for football), 40 percent for the second (up to four games) and dismissal for the third.

Georgia has not confirmed the latter two offenses to stem from drug sanctions, but you can judge based on the facts and ensuing series of events.

Having covered Georgia for the past two and a half seasons, it irks me to see Harvey-Clemons career end so abruptly. But the writing was on the wall from the day he inked his commitment. Recall that his letter of intent did not arrive in Athens until the morning after Signing Day despite numerous claims otherwise from he and his grandfather, Woodrow Clemons.

Harvey-Clemons found his way into trouble early by virtue of displinary headache Isaiah Crowell, another high-end recruit whose career was cut short when he was arrested on campus for possessing a unregistered firearm with a scratched serial number. Under-reported at the time was that Harvey-Clemons, who hadn’t been enrolled more than a few weeks, was in the back seat of Crowell’s car during the arrest along with two other Georgia players.

Then came a regretful Tweet he sent about a supposed regretful decision he made to play at Georgia just three days before the Dogs annual tilt with Florida, the school Harvey-Clemons’ grandfather wanted him to attend. Harvey-Clemons deleted the post within minutes and apologized. 

It seemed to be smooth-sailing from there.

Harvey-Clemons shined last spring after shifting from his coveted linebacker spot to safety, where he was named Defensive MVP at the conclusion of spring practice. All was well until the marijuana incident just two months later. No arrests were made, but Harvey-Clemons was suspended for the 38-35 season opening loss to No. 8 Clemson in a game that the Bulldogs truly needed him.

Perhaps Harvey-Clemons most infmaous play was the Prayer at Jordan-Hare, in which he and safety Tray Matthews collided and tipped the ball to Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis, who scored a deflating, game-winning touchdown after Georgia erased a 20-point deficit and took a 38-37 lead with 25 seconds remaining.

Harvey-Clemons avoided the media for two weeks following.

In a career defined by mishaps, that’s likely the play Georgia fans will remember him by – fair or not.

Tuesday’s announcement should not be an indictment on Richt. The coach has dealt with countless disciplinary headaches in his 13-year tenure, and consistently made attempts to resurge those players.

Take Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who is not even two years removed from his dismissal from Georgia. He ressurected his career at Garden City (Kan.) Community College and led the Tigers to the biggest turn-around in college football last year – to within three points of a BCS title.

“If a guy has a situation where he doesn’t finish here at Georgia, a guy that signed with us, my goal is for him to find a new home and have success at it,” Richt said last November.

Some argue that Richt’s drug policy is too stringent, but that’s not a coaching issue. Take that up with athletic director Greg McGarity. But having spent the last three years there as a student, I appreciate that Georgia is among the SEC elite in drug constraints – because that’s certainly the case for “regular” students, too. 

A student drug or alcohol arrest for consumption – on or off campus – results in an immediate 12-month probation from the date of resoluton. Even the most minor subsequent violations result in a suspension from school for a minimum of a semester (16 weeks). Should the student dare to draw a third infraction, they can kiss goodbye any chance of warrantly walking through the hallowed Arch.

These policies separate Georgia from the rest as one of the top academic schools in the conference.

Harvey-Clemons may go on to play professionally one day should he revitalize his character. But he will never have the privilege of possessing a degree from the University of Georgia.