Rules are rules, OK? Josh Harvey-Clemons broke enough of them to have missed Georgia’s first and last games of the 2013 season, both of them narrow losses. He broke enough of them to have gotten himself booted from the team not two full years into his collegiate career. We’ve seen this before — Isaiah Crowell and Nick Marshall and Zach Mettenberger most recently — but not just at Georgia. We’ll see it again, and not just at Georgia.
That said, Harvey-Clemons was one of the biggest defensive talents Mark Richt ever signed. He’s big enough to play linebacker, fast enough to be deployed at safety. When he was allowed to play, he was a difference-maker. He had 15 tackles and two pass breakups against LSU on a day when nobody else seemed capable of defending at all. He made a game-changing interception against Georgia Tech in his last game as a Bulldog.
He also bumped Tray Matthews off the underthrown pass that became the Prayer At Jordan-Hare. It was probably Matthews’ ball to play, but Harvey-Clemons is one of those who doesn’t defer. He barges in. When he was allowed to play, he played so hard he was always on the cusp of a penalty for unnecessary roughness or horse-collar tackles. He played, as they say, on the edge.
The Georgia program made do without a fourth season of Herschel Walker, and it will make do without Years 3 and 4 from Harvey-Clemons. In many ways, the defense could profit from the absence of uncertainty that came with Harvey-Clemons and his foibles. But it will miss his aggression, his audacity, his skill. If he straightens up, he’ll be playing on Sundays. He just won’t be playing on Saturdays for Georgia anymore.