UGA coach Mark Richt is going to church on Wednesday with the state of Georgia’s top uncommitted prospect, Josh Harvey-Clemons.
Richt’s church visit will count as his in-home visit with the 6-foot-5, 200-pound linebacker from Lowndes High School. Harvey-Clemons has UGA, Florida and Florida State in a three-way tie and will announce his decision on National Signing Day (Feb 1.).
Richt, who is known for his Christian beliefs, won’t be the first college coach to attend church services with Harvey-Clemons at a small Baptist church in the Clyattville area of Lowndes County.
“[Will Muschamp] came to our regular service about a month ago; I guess Coach Richt doesn’t want to let Coach Muschamp beat him out with going to church with us,” said Josh’s grandfather, Woodrow Clemons, with a laugh.
The elder Clemons has been attending Mt. Calvary Baptist for around 50 years. It’s a popular place of worship for many former Lowndes football stars, including family members of Greg Reid (plays at FSU), Telvin Smith (FSU) and Jay Rome (UGA).
It created quite a stir when Florida’s coach showed up at church last month. “We gave everybody a heads up, and they were surprised to see [Muschamp],” Clemons said. “And the collection plate was equally surprised.”
Josh’s grandfather said the idea to invite the college coaches to worship was from some of the deacons. “Coach Richt liked the idea. He said he was more than happy to be there.”
Here’s a likely schedule for Richt on Wednesday night, according to Clemons: Shortly after the 6 p.m. service begins, Richt will be recognized by the minister and given the opportunity to introduce himself to congregation and make a brief statement. What did Muschamp say? “He introduced himself and said how glad he was to be there … nothing that long,” Clemons said.
After the 90-minute Bible study ends, Richt will take a few Facebook pictures and then huddle in a conference room at the church with Harvey-Clemons and his family for the rest of the night.
How important will the faith of the college coaches be in Josh’s decision? “We don’t go around quoting the Bible but we are full believers … we know that God is the reason that all these things are possible for us and Josh,” Clemons said. “It’s not important that any of the coaches come to our church, but it is important that they are believers.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher desperately wanted Richt’s seat in the church pew on Wednesday night. “Coach Fisher volunteered to come to church while we were on our visit last weekend. We’d love for Coach Fisher to be there, but he can’t because it’s the same time that Coach Richt will be there. Instead we’re going to meet Coach Fisher to lunch on Thursday – probably at Cheddar’s [restaurant].”
Florida is sending a few assistant coaches to the Lowndes football banquet onThursday night. Harvey-Clemons has one official visit left to take and was undecided if it was going to be Miami or Louisville on late Wednesday night (Go here to read the story).
UGA and Florida have been the longtime frontrunners for Harvey-Clemons, while FSU caught up after last week’s recruiting trip. In fact, due to Josh’s friendships with several former Lowndes players on the team and the close proximity to Lowndes County, some are now speculating that Florida State is the school to beat in the final days.
“It went surprisingly well at Florida State,” Clemons said. “They had a lot of questions to answer. I was curious to why they didn’t pursue Josh as hard as all the rest of the schools earlier. They explained that it wasn’t from a lack of interest but that they didn’t want to get the reputation of acting like a used car salesman like a couple of the other schools. Coach Fisher wanted to get Josh down there, show him what they’ve got, and let that speak itself. We were impressed.”
How will Harvey-Clemons arrive at his decision? “We’re going to sit down as a family later this weekend, hear everybody’s thoughts and opinions, and try to guide him in the right direction, based on the pluses and minuses of each school.”
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