ATHENS -- Georgia head coach Mark Richt made it official Friday: Josh Harvey-Clemons will be a safety, not an outside linebacker, at least until he puts on more weight.
Harvey-Clemons was the highest-rated recruit in Georgia in February, at least according to some rankings. He was recruited as an outside linebacker, but as preseason practice began Thursday, the Bulldogs decided to put him at safety.
The main reason is simple. At 207 pounds, hes too small to play outside linebacker.
I dont think hes 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. Hes 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.
The move to safety isnt 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 years freshman class alone. Meanwhile, the team only signed one defensive back, Sheldon Dawson, who seems ticketed for cornerback.
Its always possible that Harvey-Clemons could move back to outside linebacker if he puts on the weight. But that doesnt seem likely in the short term.
Well just have to see what happens with his body as time goes on, Richt said.
Top six on the line
There has been some separation among those vying for starting spots on the offensive line. And the final spot may not necessarily be a battle between two youngsters.
Following Fridays practice, Richt listed his top six players as juniors Kenarious Gates, Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee, sophomores David Andrews and Watts Dantzler and freshman John Theus.
Everyone else is just kinda trying to show they can do it, Richt said.
Dantzler, who played sparingly last year, and Theus are competing for the right tackle spot. But Richt said it was always possible that both could start, moving Gates back to guard and force Lee (a guard) or Andrews (a center) to the bench.
Theres a little more competition at the guard than there looks on the surface, Richt said. I mean really it looks like Burnette and Lee. But theres always a chance that Watts or even Gates for that matter could go inside at guard if need be.
Special teams starring
Richt reiterated that more every-down players will appear on special teams, specifically defensive players. Shawn Williams, the senior safety, has been the most vociferous in wanting to see extra time.
But it still wont be exclusive veterans. The coaches met Friday morning and discussed the true freshmen, partly to go over which ones are definitely going to play, and therefore are candidates for special teams.
Weve got some good, big athletic guys, I think thatll help us a lot on some of those teams, Richt said.