New defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, has hit the ground running on the recruiting front, and it’s clear he’s hell bent on immediately improving a woeful secondary which seemed to spend the better part of the season looking dazed and confused.
One of the keys to that secondary in 2013, under former DC Todd Grantham (now at Louisville), was supposed to be Josh-Harvey Clemons; Clemons was pegged to play the all-important ‘star’ in Grantham’s ‘3-4’ scheme, during the 2013 season.
The ‘star’, for those who aren’t familiar with the the name, is essentially a hybrid spot. The term, coined by Alabama’s Nick Saban ( of whom both Grantham and Pruitt are proteges), describes the position a player replaces on the football field—if you’re interested in hearing more about the history behind the term, as well as the specific duties of that position, then click here—and in Grantham’s scheme, he cherry-picked Harvey-Clemons to be the guy to play it; Grantham was so set on Harvey-Clemons, in fact, he didn’t train any other players for the job; and that would have been fine if Harvey-Clemons didn’t get into trouble, but his absence early, coupled with the juggling which had to take place because of it, didn’t exactly bode well for a young secondary in need of continuity from the start—continuity that was figured to be brought by junior Damian Swann (the only other player to have any experience at the ‘star’ position, but who was projected to return to cornerback with the advancement of Harvey-Clemons, thereby lending stability to a young secondary…see how fast the dominoes can fall?).
The end result was a poorly performing secondary, which endured a ton of tinkering before
the year was over—in part due to the early suspension and some to injury.
In 2014, Pruitt will install his ‘3-4’, and it will also have a ‘star’ position, but it’s clear he’s already thinking well beyond Harvey-Clemons and one of his first options appears to be 2014 commit Malkom Parrish:
We talked about the defense and he wants me to come in and play the ‘star’ position. It is like a nickel cornerback and I would be covering the inside receiver and coming off the edge sometimes and things like that. I love it. I just want to be out there making plays and playing defense. I don’t care where (Jake Rowe, UGASports)
And while Parrish is considered a 4* player, he already sports a 5* attitude:
“I just want to bring that spark back in the Georgia secondary and the Georgia defense,” Parrish said of his expectations when he gets to Athens. “I want to be the guy that can come in and make plays to help us win. I know it sounds weird because I am a freshman, but I want to be a leader. I want to be that leader that brings the secondary together. I want to play a role as a freshman, help us win and to just come in and do the best I can. (Jake Rowe, UGASports)
If he walks that talk once he’s in Athens, he’ll be an immediate favorite.
There’s a quote from an old sports movie—I believe it was “Love and Basketball”—where an injured player (the former star of the team) gives advice to her replacement, after said replacement proves she more than has the goods to be the next star the on the team; she says, “never let a freshman take your spot”.
I don’t know what Parrish will become during his time at Georgia, nor can I say that Harvey-Clemons won’t eventually get his act together, but I can say a player only has so many chances to prove he’s worthy of the accolades before people start looking elsewhere for consistent production; one thing is certainly clear already, JHC won’t be the only ‘star’ in town next season…and that may be a good thing.