ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt made it official on Friday: Josh Harvey-Clemons will be a safety, not an outside linebacker.
Harvey-Clemons was the highest-rated recruit in Georgia last February, at least according to some sites. He was recruited as an outside linebacker, but as preseason practice began the Bulldogs decided to put the 6-foot-5, 207-pounder at safety.
"I don't think he's really thick enough at this moment and strong enough to play the outside linebacker position," Richt said. "He could do it athletically, without question, he could play safety without question. I think he could play the nickel I think he could probably play the corner. He's just very athletic, has very good ball skills, has got a lot of quickness and burst.
"And I imagine he could be a pretty good receiver too if he wanted to be. He's about what we thought he was. But he's just not thick enough yet to drop inside."
The move to safety isn't a major surprise. Back in March, fellow signee Jordan Jenkins (an outside linebacker) said he had been told by defensive coaches that Harvey-Clemons could move to safety.
It also makes sense from a roster standpoint: Georgia is fairly loaded at outside linebacker, with Jenkins, Josh Dawson and James DeLoach in this year's freshman class alone. Meanwhile, the team only signed one defensive back, Sheldon Dawson, who seems ticketed for cornerback.
It's always possible that Harvey-Clemons could move back to outside linebacker, if he puts on the weight. But that doesn't seem likely in the short term.
"We want to see what his body does," Richt said. "I'm for guys getting as strong as they can get and as fast and quick as they can get, in the best condition they can get. If he's got a body type that just won't put it on him he may stay in the back end a little bit. We'll just have to see what happens with his body as time goes on."
Richt pointed to past freshmen who have put on weight very quickly - such as Ray Drew and Sterling Bailey last year, causing each to move from outside linebacker to end. Josh Dawson, a freshman this year, has put on a lot of weight too, but so far is remaining at outside linebacker.