Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons sits on the sidelines with his head in his hands following a loss to Alabama in the 2012 SEC Championship game. Harvey-Clemons will miss the first three games of next season for a violation of the team’s marijuana use policy a second time. (Reuters)
ATHENS — Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons will miss the first three games of next season as a continuation of the suspension that forced him to miss the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
The Bulldogs announced before Christmas that Harvey-Clemons would not accompany the team to Jacksonville, Fla., for the bowl because of an undisclosed “violation of team regulations.” A few days later, Harvey-Clemons’ grandfather and legal guardian, Woodrow Clemons, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his grandson’s suspension was academically related and would not carry over to next season.
Since then, however, several people familiar with the situation told the AJC that Harvey-Clemons violated UGA’s marijuana-use policy for a second time and was issued a four-game suspension, per the athletic association’s athlete disciplinary guidelines. Those guidelines call for the offending athlete to be suspended for “not less than 30 percent of the season” for a second offense of the marijuana-use policy. In football, that comes to four games, one of which Harvey-Clemons served.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Woodrow Clemons said on Thursday. “I’m getting ready to talk to Mike Bobo over at Lowndes High School right now, but I didn’t know that. If that’s the Georgia policy, then he just has to conform to it.”
UGA officials declined comment Thursday.
Cornerback Sheldon Dawson also was suspended for the bowl game for breaking team rules. His status for next season is unknown.
What Harvey-Clemons did to violate the policy again is unclear. However, UGA players — like all college football players — are subject to random drug screenings. First offenders, such as Harvey-Clemons, are subject to more frequent tests.
Harvey-Clemons, 19, first ran afoul of Georgia regulations in February when he admitted to UGA police that he smoked marijuana in his dorm room with teammate Ty Flournoy-Smith. No arrests were made, but Flournoy-Smith, who had been in trouble the law before, was dismissed from the team. Harvey-Clemons was issued a one-game suspension, which meant he missed the 2013 season opener at Clemson. The Bulldogs lost that game by three points.
Next season, Harvey-Clemons will again miss the Clemson game — Georgia plays host to the Tigers in the season opener Aug. 30 — as well as the Sept. 13 conference opener at South Carolina and a home game against Troy. And the Bulldogs will miss him.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound rising junior was one of the better players on Georgia’s defense this past season. He started all 11 games he played and finished third on the team with 66 tackles. He also had 5.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two quarterback pressures and one interception.
A converted outside linebacker, Harvey-Clemons was strong against the run, but struggled in pass coverage. His deflection resulted in the 73-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with 25 seconds remaining by Auburn.
Rising senior Corey Moore, who started four of the last five games at safety, likely will step in for Harvey-Clemons.
“I’m not giving up on him, and we’ll get over this hurdle,” Woodrow Clemons said. “He’s an excellent player, and Georgia needs him. And he’s very excited about (playing for) coach (Jeremy) Pruitt and playing next season.”
Georgia hired Pruitt from FSU to succeed Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator Wednesday. The Bulldogs have since lost two other defensive assistants. Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti returned to the Washington Redskins to coach the same position, and defensive line coach Chris Wilson reportedly accepted the same position on the staff at USC. However, there were indications late Thursday that Wilson may be having second thoughts and could remain.