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September 5, 2011MORE NIEBUHR: Top weekend performers
VALDOSTA, Ga. -- The Powder Springs (Ga.) Mceachern coaching staff appeared to have made the perfect call. The throw from quarterback Trent Thompson was on the money. The receiver, Maryland commit Amba Etta-Tawo, ran a solid crossing route and was exactly where he needed to be.
This, it seemed, would be a nice pickup.
But instead, the play resulted in an incomplete pass after Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes senior Josh Harvey-Clemons knocked it free from Etta-Tawo's hands with a bone-jarring hit that sent much of the crowd into a frenzy.
To most, this was highlight reel stuff.
To Harvey-Clemons, one of the most sought-after prospects in the country (he's rated No. 37 nationally), it was, well, nothing special.
"That was probably the lowest" of his big hits this season, he said. "He got up. He wasn't supposed to get up from that one."
In a game with multiple FBS prospects, Harvey-Clemons stood out. Although his team would fall 20-13, the versatile 6-foot-5, 208-pounder had a stellar showing, something that has become a regular thing in this storied south Georgia football community.
Playing mostly at safety but also a little linebacker, he finished with 11 tackles, an interception and, of course, his pass breakup, a play the talented Etta-Tawo isn't likely to forget any time soon. On offense, Harvey-Clemons saw action primarily at receiver but also took a few snaps at quarterback. He caught two passes for 21 yards and was the intended target on his team's final play - a fourth-down throw to the end zone that a leaping Harvey-Clemons, surrounded by multiple defenders, couldn't grab.
"I should have caught that pass in the end zone," Harvey-Clemons said.
Despite his size, Harvey-Clemons looked like a natural at safety. Because of his excellent speed, he effortlessly covered a large amount of territory, which allowed him to often limit an opposing receiver to a minimal gain and provide solid run support. His leaping interception came on the first play of the second half, when he jumped in front of a Thompson pass to the right side of the field.
"The quarterback was looking over there," Harvey-Clemons said. "We'd been working on that play in practice a lot, so I kind of figured it was coming."
Although Harvey-Clemons excels at safety, most project him as a college outside linebacker. At that position, Rivals.com has him as the country's No. 2 recruit, behind only Ukeme Eligwe of Stone Mountain (Ga.).
"I prefer outside linebacker," he said. "Because I'm closer to the line?that's where I'm comfortable."
Harvey-Clemons, a U.S. Army All-American, holds more than a dozen offers. Right now, he claims to be "wide open," but said Friday night he is planning to take officials to Florida, Georgia and LSU. Florida State is another program Harvey-Clemons said is squarely in the mix. Additionally, programs such as Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee all were in contact with him last week.
"Georgia and Florida are really the schools recruiting me the most," Harvey-Clemons said. "So I've got to go to them. Then LSU, I've always liked them growing up. I want to see what they have to offer. [FSU] is close to home. I feel like I can play there [early] also."
What apparently won't happen early is a Harvey-Clemons announcement.
"I've just been trying to keep everything open," he said. "I'm making my decision at the end of the year. I'm going to try to do it at [the U.S. Army U.S. Army All-American Bowl].