The recruiting trail can lead to some unusual places for college football coaches.
Some of UGA coach Mark Richt’s visit with recruit Josh Harvey-Clemons was briefly at a Valdosta jail on Wednesday night when the 5-star prospect had to help his grandfather with his bail bonds business. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound linebacker from Lowndes High School is ranked as Georgia’s No. 1 prospect by ESPN and lists the Bulldogs, Florida and Florida State as his leaders.
“I’m sure this was an experience that Coach Mark Richt will never forget,” said Josh’s uncle, Roy Hart, with a chuckle. “Coach Richt said ‘I can’t wait to read the headlines about this one.’”
Here’s the surreal story from a couple of Josh’s family members: The evening got off to a normal start for Richt. He was in Valdosta to make an “in-home” visit with Harvey-Clemons and give his final sales pitch for the Bulldogs before next week’s signing day.
Richt reported to Josh’s house and rode on a golf cart for about a mile to Mt. Calvary Baptist Church with the 5-star prospect’s grandfather, Woodrow Clemons (he’s also the legal guardian after the death of Josh’s parents). They met with about 20 of Josh’s family members and close friends over dinner, and Richt talked at length about why Harvey-Clemons should select UGA.
The group moved over to the church’s sanctuary for the 7 p.m. service, and Richt’s presence caused a little commotion among the congregation. “I guess 60-percent recognized him and the other 40-percent didn’t believe it was Coach Richt from the University of Georgia,” Clemons said.
In the middle of the church service, Clemons got a business call. He’s the co-owner of a Bail Bondsman’s service in Valdosta, and three people needed a get-of-out-jail card immediately. Clemons quietly got Josh’s attention and explained the situation, eventually dispatching his grandson and daughter – who are both bail bond agents – to do the prison job.
“I told Coach Richt ‘Josh has to go to jail and get somebody out. You can go with him or stay here until he gets back,’” said Clemons, who added that Richt initially decided to stay.
“My kids are at the age where they have to work and do something. They’ve got to start learning about the real world. And with being bond agents, they can pick up the ‘fear’ of going to jail … Josh understood he had to go do this. I own the business and one day Josh will own part of it, so he knows the responsibilities that come with it. And it definitely beats working at Walmart or a hamburger joint.”
This is where it gets more interesting: “My daughter called because she happened to leave her ID in the van at church,” said Clemons. The ID was needed to post bond for the clients. “Coach Richt and Coach Bobo went to jail with my wife to take the ID to them. Coach Richt wanted one more time to talk with Josh before they hit the road. They talked at jail for about 20 or 30 minutes I guess.”
Richt returned to the church with Josh, gave out hugs and handshakes, and had a question while walking out the door. “Coach Richt said ‘Tell me Roy, how do we look with Josh?’” Hart said. “I said ‘Coach, you’re in the running. Nobody really knows except for Josh. He’s not saying much. He hasn’t made up his mind so nobody knows except for him.’ Then Coach Richt asked if Georgia was still looking good and if they still had a opportunity to get him. I assured him that they did.”
Note: Harvey-Clemons switched his final official visit from Louisville to Miami this weekend. “Louisville said if they weren’t in serious consideration, maybe we shouldn’t come there, and we agreed on that,” Hart said. “We talked to Miami on Tuesday and we’re excited about going down there. They have great academics and Ray Lewis is supposed to be on campus this weekend. Josh is excited about meeting one of the all-time football greats.”
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IT’S RAINING RECRUITING STORIES
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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