Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, seen here returning an interception in a Nov. 30, 2013, game against Georgia Tech, won't be playing in the Jan. 1, 2014, Gator Bowl.

Harvey-Clemons to miss Georgia’s first 3 games due to suspension

The Bulldogs announced before Christmas that Harvey-Clemons would not accompany the team to Jacksonville for the bowl due to an undisclosed “violation of team regulations.” A few days later, Harvey-Clemons’ grandfather and legal guardian, Woodrow Clemons, told the AJC his grandson’s suspension was academically related and would not carry over to next season.

Since then, however, several persons familiar with the situation have told the AJC that Harvey-Clemons had in fact violated UGA’s marijuana-use policy for a second time and therefore had been issued a four-game suspension, as per the athletic association’s student-athlete disciplinary guidelines. Those guidelines call for the offending student-athlete to be suspended for “not less than 30 percent of the season” for a second offense of the marijuana-use policy. In football, that comes to four games, one of which Harvey-Clemons has already served.

“I wasn’t aware of that,” Woodrow Clemons told the AJC on Thursday. “I’m getting ready to talk to Mike Bobo over at Lowdnes High School right now, but I didn’t know that. If that’s the Georgia policy, then he just has to conform to it.”

UGA officials declined comment on Thursday.

What Harvey-Clemons did to violate the policy again is unclear. However, UGA players — like all college football players — are subjected to random drug screenings. First-offenders, such as Harvey-Clemons, are also subjected to more frequent tests.

Harvey-Clemons, 19, first ran afoul of Georgia regulations last February when he admitted to UGA police he smoked marijuana in his dorm room along with teammate Ty Flournoy-Smith. No arrests were made but Flournoy-Smith, who had already been in trouble the law once, was dismissed from the team. Harvey-Clemons was issued a one-game suspension, which meant he missed the 2013 season opener at Clemson. The Bulldogs lost that game by three points.

This coming season, Harvey-Clemons will again miss the Clemson game — Georgia plays host to the Tigers in the season opener on Aug. 30 — as well as the Sept. 13 conference opener at South Carolina and a home game against Troy. And the Bulldogs will miss him.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound rising junior from Valdosta was one of the better players on Georgia’s defense this past season. He started all 11 games he played either at strong safety or star and finished third on the team with 66 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups, two quarterback pressures and one interception.

“I’m not giving up on him and we’ll get over this hurdle,” Woodrow Clemons said. “He’s an excellent player and Georgia needs him. And he’s very excited about (playing for) Coach Pruitt and playing next season.”

Jeremy Pruitt was hired from FSU to succeed Todd Grantham as Georgia’s defensive coordinator on Wednesday.

A converted outside linebacker, Harvey-Clemons was strong against the run this past season but struggled in pass coverage. His deflection resulted in the 73-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with 25 seconds remaining by Auburn this past season.

Cornerback Sheldon Dawson was also suspended for the bowl game for breaking team rules. His status for next season is currently unknown.

Rising senior Corey Moore, who started four of the last five games at safety last season, will likely step in for Harvey-Clemons.

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