The wait to see what heralded sophomore safety Josh Harvey-Clemons can do for Georgia’s defense will last at least one more game.
Harvey-Clemons, the coaches’ defensive MVP of spring practice, will be suspended for Georgia’s opener at Clemson after a marijuana-related incident earlier this month that also led to a teammate not being welcomed back with the Bulldogs.
UGA coach Mark Richt confirmed Harvey-Clemons’ one-game suspension Tuesday to reporters at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., while declining to offer additional comment. That was after news broke earlier Tuesday of a dorm room search by campus police that did not lead to an arrest but did document two players admitting to smoking marijuana, according to the incident report.
The UGA athletics association’s substance abuse policy calls for a one-game suspension for an athlete’s first drug violation.
Harvey-Clemons and sophomore tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith – who Richt said last week is transferring from the team -- were in a room together at Vandiver Hall the night of May 14 when campus police were contacted by a resident assistant reporting the smell of marijuana originating from the room, per details of the UGA Police’s incident report.
Officers arrived, “noted the smell of burning marijuana emanating through the door” and then knocked on the door for “a few minutes” before it was answered by Flournoy-Smith and Harvey-Clemons. Both “exhibited signs of marijuana ingestion, i.e. bloodshot eyes with dilated pupils,” according to police.
Police observed loose cigar tobacco on the kitchen floor “consistent with having been removed from inside a cigar, which is a common practice for marijuana ingestion.”
The two young men “both admitted they had ‘smoked a blunt,’” according to police.
Both stated to police there was no additional marijuana in the room, and a consented search did not locate marijuana. As a result, police declined to press criminal charges because “as there was no physical evidence to support prosecution,” the report said.
The incident report said a digital scale was uncovered in Flournoy-Smith’s dresser drawer and that “Ty admitted it was his, and he used it to make sure what he was buying was accurate.”
“A search of Josh’s room revealed no contraband,” the report said.
Richt announced Flournoy-Smith was transferring – likely to a junior college -- prior to a UGA Day speaking engagement Thursday in Statesboro, Ga. The coach declined to offer specifics of why, but it was clear that it was not Flournoy-Smith’s decision to leave the Bulldogs. Richt stated it was possible that he could be welcomed back to the team in the future.
Meanwhile, Harvey-Clemons’ suspension leaves Georgia without a rising star and expected defensive starter for a season-opener against a high-powered offense at Clemson.
A former five-star recruit from Valdosta, Ga., Harvey-Clemons has been described by coaches and teammates as a talent and a standout practice player since last season. There have been questions about whether he would play outside linebacker or safety, but a lack of consistent weight on his 6-foot-5 frame has kept him in the secondary.
He exited spring as the Bulldogs’ starting strong safety in their 3-4 base defense and the starting slot DB (known as the “star” position) in the nickel defense.
“Last year it was eating me up just sitting on the sideline,” Harvey-Clemons said this spring. “I understood what was going on and everything, but now, I’m looking around and it’s nothing but young guys. So I feel like it’s my time to take over. It’s our time to take over, because a lot of people are saying the defense isn’t going to be as good this year. That just really motivates me and the rest of the defense.”
Without Harvey-Clemons, immediate playing time could be more available for newly enrolling defensive backs like cornerbacks Brendan Langley and Shaq Wiggins and safeties Paris Bostick and Shaquille Fluker, a junior college transfer.
Another true freshman, Tray Matthews, is now projected to start at free safety.