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Senior safety is a preseason Nagurski Trophy Watch List member

Senior safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is key figure in Louisville's highly-rated defense

While his journey began with home state Georgia Bulldogs, senior Josh Harvey-Clemons has the opportunity to cap his career as one of Louisville's best-ever safeties. 

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound was a highly-sought after prospect at Valdosta High School, ranking among the top 15 targets in the south and a top 100 recruit nationally.  Coaches across the nation made efforts to attract Harvey-Clemons to their program with Louisville, Florida and Florida State getting strong looks before he joined Georgia's class of 2012.

Following two promising seasons in Athens, Ga., Harvey-Clemons was dismissed for violating team rules.  He was quick to move to Louisville to reunite with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who had held the same position at Georgia prior to leaving to work for Petrino.

Grantham explained the decision to welcome Harvey-Clemons on the Cardinals roster was based off his experience working with his at Georgia.

"I have no trouble standing up for him because I do believe he’s a solid kid," Grantham said at the time. "I think as you move forward in life, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes, and I think sometimes you’ve got to give kids a second chance, and I think he’s earned the right for that chance and what he’s done so far. I never had any issues with him when I was at Georgia from the accountability for meetings or practice or anything like that, but at the same time, you do have to go through a maturity phase as far as understanding the decisions you make, there’s consequences for them. He’s really matured, and I've been very proud of that."

He sat out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules and became the team's starting strong safety for all 13 games last fall.  His 88 tackles was third best on the team and he snagged three interceptions. He garnered All-ACC honorable mentions and was a preseason selection for the Bronko Nagurski Award Watch List.

His size, coupled with his athleticism has allowed Harvey-Clemons to become an impact performer playing multiple roles.

"He can do a multitude of things," said secondary assistant Cort Dennison.  "He can play the middle of the field.  He can come down in the box.  He can use his hands.  He's long and has great range. He can tackle in the box.  He's getting a lot better taking on offensive linemen."

Harvey-Clemons considered passing on the opportunity that comes with a senior season before choosing to return instead of opting for the NFL Draft.

"I feel that I have a lot to show and a lot to prove," he said. "I just want to build on what I did last season. I have to make better plays on the ball and improve my tackling."

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Some of that is becoming a difference-maker closer to the line of scrimmage.  Due in part to injuries to others, the Cardinals have worked in the dime package quite a bit during camp, allowing the lengthy defender to impact the run game and rush the quarterback.

"I get to play the run a lot and I like that because I can read the guard and tackle and come up and make more plays on the ball,"he explained. "It helps our team with guys being able to play multiple positions."

For the defense, especially the Cardinals secondary, to live up to its preseason expectations, which includes a No.2 ranking for the secondary among ACC teams by ESPN, his ability to play multiple spots will be beneficial in the team reaching its goals on defense.

"When you have a player like that you can do a lot of different things," said Dennison.

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