Georgia Football: Who Will Replace Josh Harvey-Clemons in the Starting Lineup?

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IFebruary 18, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 02:  Josh Harvey-Clemons #25 of the Georgia Bulldogs in action during the game against the Florida Gators at EverBank Field on November 2, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Josh Harvey-Clemons is has now joined a small group.

He is now on the list of Bulldogs that have been kicked off the team during the Mark Richt era. He was dismissed from the team for violating team rules, according to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But whatever the reason why Harvey-Clemons was released, the Bulldogs will now have to find a strong safety to replace him.

But the question is: Who will step up to the plate?

Andrew Hall, who also covers the Bulldogs for Bleacher Report, said Corey Moore and Quincy Mauger are the two top candidates, but after that, the choices are very slim.

Odds are Moore will get the most reps when spring practice begins. Moore is a rising senior that saw action in 12 games last year. He tallied 35 tackles, one sack and one interception. Having him in the lineup will give the secondary leadership, which was one of the things that it was missing last year.

Here’s what Moore had to say about Harvey-Clemons via Twitter:

Prayers up for my boi JHC. God makes no mistakes.

— Corey Moore (@MAPTIME_39) February 19, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 02: Quincy Mauger #20 of the Georgia Bulldogs attempts to tackle Solomon Patton #83 of the Florida Gators during the game at EverBank Field on November 2, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Mauger played in 13 games as a true freshman last year and got better as time went on. Mauger recorded 57 tackles and one interception at safety. He will also get a ton of looks during spring practice.

One of the other things the coaching staff could do is have Tray Matthews play strong safety. Matthews played at free safety last season but played in only six games due to injuries. He recorded 36 tackles and one interception.

Then it will be the signees that will have an opportunity to earn a starting spot.

Out of all the 21 signees in the Bulldogs 2014 class, only one is a true safety—Dominick Sanders.

Hailing from Tucker, Ga., Sanders is a 3-star prospect, according to 247 Sports, and has the coverage skills to play both safety positions. He can also play different positions of defense and offense, but he may have to play safety this season based on the situation the Bulldogs have going on right now.

Then there’s Shattle Fenteng, Shaquille Jones. Both players are listed as cornerbacks by 247 Sports, but both players are 6'2". Fenteng may be the better choice for safety because he is 25 pounds heavier, but both players will get an opportunity to get a look at safety along with cornerback.

But at the end of the day, it all depends on what defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wants to do. Pruitt told Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph (via Columbus Ledger-Enquirer) that everyone is on a clean slate, and it’s going to be open competition when they start spring practice.

Pruitt likes to run a multiple style on defense, so there’s a chance we will see two or three players filling the hole that Harvey-Clemons left.

There is no doubt the hole left by Harvey-Clemons is a big because he was a talented player. But there are a few guys that are waiting for the opportunity to make the fans try and forget about the sophomore from Valdosta, Ga.

It won’t be easy, but the Bulldogs have been through this before, and they are not going to slow down because of it.