The new look defense for the Georgia Bulldogs will only succeed in 2013 if the new players live up to expectations.
With key departures on defense, players such as Corey Moore, Ramik Wilson and Ray Drew will likely serve as starters for the unit and have the pressure of needing breakout seasons to help the defense be successful.
But one newcomer could be the X-factor and will be the reason the defense is better than it has ever been under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s watch.
Josh Harvey-Clemons is expected to play a lot this season, but what position is still unknown.
During spring practice, Harvey-Clemons spent all his time at safety, but the coaches do want to see how he does at the linebacker position.
Standing at 6’5’’, 218 pounds, Harvey-Clemons has the size to play both positions. However, the coaches do want him to gain more weight before the regular season begins. Harvey-Clemons said that he wants to bulk up to around 230 pounds, which will be 23 pounds more than what he weighed last year when he first stepped on campus as a four-star recruit.
The weight gain will come in time, but the reason Harvey-Clemons will have a breakout year is not because he will be one of the biggest linebackers/safeties on the roster.
Many teammates have said that Harvey-Clemons is one of the most skilled players on the roster and it’s just a matter of his learning the playbook.
Harvey-Clemons did play sparingly last season at strong safety, which helped him learn the position better during spring. In 2012, Harvey-Clemons appeared in all 14 games and tallied 14 tackles and one pass broken up.
Clemons has the speed (around 4.5 in the 40-yard dash) to cover any receiver on the field along with with the strength to bring down a tight end or fullback. Because of his height at the strong safety position, Harvey-Clemons will be very intimidating for opposing offenses, which is also why he will work in at linebacker in the very near future.
Once he gains 10 more pounds and more experience, Harvey-Clemons will see more linebacker action and split time between the two. No matter where Harvey-Clemons plays, he will be on the field almost all the time because the coaches want him out there making plays and be the star that they hoped he would become.
Harvey-Clemons has the athleticism, discipline and versatility to play both linebacker and safety. He is also getting stronger and improving in his pass coverage skills each day. So everything is set up for him to have the breakout 2013 season which the team is depending on following the loss of Alec Ogletree, headed for the NFL.
If he doesn’t have a great (or even good) season, the defense could be in a world of hurt.