ATHENS, Ga. - Even with safety Bacarri Rambo and cornerback Sanders Commings serving suspensions at the start of the season, touted freshman Josh Harvey-Clemons failed to make an impact in Georgia's secondary.
Yet his first year has been anything but a wash.
Harvey-Clemons is excelling on three special-teams units for the No. 13 Bulldogs and has been named a captain for Saturday night's game at Kentucky. The 6-foot-5, 207-pounder from Valdosta, Ga., will walk to midfield at Commonwealth Stadium with junior offensive guard Chris Burnette and senior defensive linemen John Jenkins and Abry Jones.
"Special teams is a position where you can go play one play as fast as you can and then get out," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said, "whereas on defense you're in for an extended period of time. Josh has got the athletic ability, and he's got the size and the strength.
"I've been pleased with his progress, and I think he's going to be playing a lot of good football for us in the future."
Harvey-Clemons will become the first true freshman to serve as a game captain since linebacker Rennie Curran against Georgia Tech in 2007. Curran earned the honor a week after a 13-tackle performance against Kentucky.
A five-star prospect according to Rivals.com and Scout.com, Harvey-Clemons was projected to open preseason camp as a linebacker but has been at safety from the start. He was unable to break through on defense before Rambo's return in the fifth game against Tennessee, with coaches opting for Corey Moore and Connor Norman and then shifting Commings to play alongside senior Shawn Williams.
"At first, I did not want to be on special teams, but I really like it now," Harvey-Clemons said. "It's an important part of the game, and it has given me a good idea of how different the speed of the game is in college. More importantly, it's giving me a chance to compete, which is what I wanted."
Harvey-Clemons plays on the kickoff coverage, punt coverage and kickoff return teams. He has appeared in all six games, amassing eight tackles and a 2-yard tackle for loss against Florida Atlantic.
"He's a great example of a very talented guy who just needs more reps on defense for the coaches to get comfortable playing him on defense on a consistent basis," head coach Mark Richt said. "When he does, and you add another year's worth of muscle and conditioning and knowledge, he's going to be a heck of a football player."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs practiced Wednesday for 90 minutes in helmets and shorts, with junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (ankle) sitting out again. ... Should Jones be unable to play, freshman Jordan Jenkins would get the start. ... Richt on the freshman class: "The talent base is great. The learning curve is normal."