Josh Belk

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Defensive lineman Josh Belk leaves South Carolina football amid injury concern

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South Carolina defensive lineman Josh Belk is walking away from South Carolina, and could potentially be leaving the football field entirely due to concerns about his health moving forward. Belk was originally reported to no longer be with the South Carolina football program as of Wednesday afternoon, and a follow-up to that story noted it may be injury-related. Belk may have confirmed as much with a brief message on his Twitter account as well.

Belk later issued a statement that was relayed first by Vizor Carolina via Twitter (Belk then retweeted it from his own account);

“I fractured a vertebrae and decided to choose another path in life,” Belk is quoting to say. “One that won’t potentially mess me up in the long run with injuries and all. Been praying and this is what God has led me to.”

“After talking with Josh Belk, he has decided to give up the game,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said in a released statement. “He is a fine young man and we wish him the best.”

As reported by The State, Belk had an MRI recently and the results may have been severe enough to force him to make a difficult decision (or perhaps it was an easy decision). For now, Belk will focus on making the decisions that are best for him moving forward, while South Carolina will look to start up the spring knowing they are down one defensive lineman that could have played a significant role in the trenches this fall.

Belk, a former five-star recruit out of high school, appeared in six games for the Gamecocks last season after receiving approval for a waiver for immediate eligibility following his transfer from Clemson. Belk was a member of Clemson’s Class of 2018. He enrolled early and transferred after Clemson’s spring football practices, but was allowed to be eligible to play right away at South Carolina last fall rather than having to sit out a season.

Clemson DT Josh Belk announces decision to transfer

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
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With Clemson carrying an abundance of talent on the defensive line, a player looking to transfer for a new opportunity to get some playing time was bound to happen. Clemson defensive tackle Josh Belk will pursue an opportunity elsewhere, as he announced with a statement on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon. Clemson has released Belk from his scholarship at the player’s request.

Belk was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2018, according to his Rivals profile. The 6′-3″, 325 lb recruit was a massive prize for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers, especially considering in-state rival South Carolina was a runaway favorite in the recruiting process according to multiple recruiting analysts. Other schools extending offers to Belk included Florida State, LSU, North Carolina, and NC State. Belk was an early enrollee at Clemson this spring.

Making things a bit juicier with this potential transfer is the idea Belk could potentially transfer to South Carolina. A South Carolina native, Belk going from the Tigers to the Gamecocks would be quite fascinating on so many levels, although for now there is nothing tangible to suggest that will be the end result of this entire process at this time.

However, even though Belk has not been around for more than a spring semester, he will still be required to sit out the 2018 season if he transfers to another FBS program due to NCAA transfer rules. The only exception would be if Belk and his new school filed for a waiver to allow for immediate eligibility, but that can tend to be an uphill climb in this specific scenario. The good news is Belk can jump right into using a redshirt year if needed, which may have been a possible outcome for the fall even if he did stick around at Clemson.