According to Will Mitchell, who coached Josh Belk at Lewisville High School in Richburg, S.C., the former 4-star defensive tackle needs to be closer to home.
“There are some health issues in Josh’s family and it was necessary for him to get closer to home,” Mitchell said. “Very classy move by Coach [Dabo] Swinney and the Clemson program. They understood the importance of family and that Josh felt that it was important to be there for his.
“There has been no prior contact with any other program — but I imagine that — that will now change.”
Belk, who was granted an unconditional release from Clemson on Wednesday afternoon, potentially could transfer to South Carolina. The Gamecocks were among those with offers to Belk before he committed to the Tigers in January of his junior year at Lewisville.
He was a signee in the Class of 2018 and was an early enrollee at Clemson.
“I appreciate the Clemson staff, fans and coaching staff,” Belk wrote on Wednesday. “Thanks to Coach [Dabo] Swinney for the opportunity. Nothing bad to say about the university and my time there. Just feel that it’s the best decision for my family and I.”
Belk’s attorney wrote in a statement, which was attached to his tweet:
“Circumstances of Mr. Belk’s life have led him to request a full, unconditional release from Coach [Dabo] Swinney that was graciously granted by Coach Swinney and the university in a timely manner.”
Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, LSU, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Ohio State and Virginia Tech also offered him out of high school. Belk’s high school is about a 50-minute drive from South Carolina’s campus. Charlotte is closer to an hour away from Lewisville. Clemson is about a 2½-hour drive.
Belk was ranked as the No. 2 player in the state, No. 7 defensive tackle in the country and No. 102 overall player in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.
Seven members of Clemson’s 2018 signing class were ranked ahead of Belk on the 247Sports composite.
“Josh Belk is going to be a great player. He has all the tools. Sometimes you forget he is 18,” Swinney told reporters earlier this spring. Swinney described Belk as a “young man in a grown man’s body,” before listing the older, more veteran defensive tackles on Clemson’s roster.
According to clemsontigers.com, Belk entered the university with some nice credentials:
“All-Regional and All-State by High School Sports Report (for all classes) and Coaches Class A All-State…finished the year with 116 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 7 caused fumbles, a recovered fumble and a pass deflection…probably had best game against Lamar with 10 tackles and 3 tackles for loss…named to the U.S. Army All-American Game.”