That morning Clemons’ grandson Josh Harvey-Clemons signed a letter of intent to play football at Georgia on live TV. It was a huge recruiting win for the Bulldogs.
But Clemons, who is Harvey-Clemons’ legal guardian, left to go home before signing the letter of intent. NCAA by-laws require a guardian’s signature for high school prospects to be bound by the document.
“I saw it on the news, and people started calling me asking what was going on,” Clemons said. “But nothing was going on. Had I known the media was going to portray it like that I would not have done it like that.”
Clemons said he didn’t feel like he had to sign the papers right away – and that he was on the same page as his grandson about him playing for Georgia.
“By not signing at that particular moment – what was the rush? I had told Josh that I would support him wherever he was going to go – and I have, and I will. I didn’t have a favorite school,” he said. “There was a lot of drama afterwards. The hesitation wasn’t about where Josh was going. The hesitation (in signing the letter of intent) was that I had that right (to sign when he wanted to).”
“We talked about it that night,” Harvey-Clemons said – confirming his grandfather’s thoughts.
With hindsight Clemons said he wouldn’t have done it the same way again.
“If I had known it was going to get like it got I would have never done that – hell no. It wasn’t worth it,” he said.
That day, however, Clemons said media reports fueled the fire of doubt about Harvey-Clemons going to Georgia.
“The media, you guys, can take it all out of context. If I had known the media would have done the stuff like they did through this recruiting process I would have stayed away from the media – completely out of the way of them,” Clemons said. “Someone talked to my nephew Roy (during the day), and he didn’t know where I was. He said: ‘I don’t know where he is’. It all took off from there.”
Clemons, Harvey-Clemons and Richt before UGA Day in Valdosta. (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)
Harvey-Clemons’ backed up his grandfather once more.
“It was really just miscommunication. That’s really all it was – nothing more,” Harvey-Clemons said.
Clemons said he does have misgivings about not talking that day with Georgia’s coaches about Josh playing for the Bulldogs.
“That’s the only thing I regret not doing was calling Coach (Mike) Bobo and Coach (Mark) Richt and letting them know (it wasn’t signed at the time),” he said. “I just didn’t want to sign it right then. It wasn’t anything against Georgia or for anyone else.”
Clemons, who works multiple jobs to support his family, arrived at the UGA Day in Valdosta with his grandson wearing a Georgia shirt, Georgia belt and snakeskin boots. He and his grandson spent about ten minutes before the event talking with Mark Richt about the future. Richt could hardly stop smiling during the conversation.
Scout.com ranked Harvey-Clemons a five-star linebacker prospect. He was one of two players with that distinction the Bulldogs signed on Signing Day in February.
Clemons is well known in the Valdosta community as many in the partisan Georgia crowd knew him long before his grandson was a recruit who signed with the Bulldogs. He greeted scores of people at the event – most people recognized him before they recognized his grandson.
Fiercely protective of family, Clemons said he’s learned his lesson with the media.
“I am the parent,” Clemons said. “Have you ever questioned your parents as to why they do something? But they are the parent. Still, the media didn’t want to let my family handle it… they wanted to blow it out. The media isn’t going to be taking him back and forth to Georgia. They aren’t going to be with him the rest of his life.”