Heralded 2018 defensive tackle Josh Belk intends to transfer, according to multiple reports. Belk was considered a key member of Clemson’s high-powered recruiting class.
Belk’s preferred destination? South Carolina, according to Tony Morrell of The Big Spur. Dabo Swinney would be willing to sign off on the transfer, Morrell says.
Belk was 247Sports’ top-rated defensive tackle in the Class of 2018. Though the Tigers are loaded with front seven talent in the present, Belk’s transfer is a significant blow for the future.
According to Will Mitchell, who coached Josh Belk at Lewisville High School, 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.”
Swinney issued a statement soon after.
“Josh is a good young man from a great family,” Swinney said to TigerNet.com. “Sometimes circumstances change, as is the case with Josh. We are disappointed he is leaving, but I enjoyed being around him the past few months. He did everything that was asked of him and had an excellent semester academically. I wish him all the best in the years to come.”
Belk, who was granted an unconditional release from Clemson on Wednesday afternoon, could potentially 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 Lewsville High School (Richburg, S.C.).
“I will be transferring from Clemson University,” Belk wrote on Wednesday. “I appreciate the Clemson staff, fans and coaching staff. 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 2 1/2-hour drive.
SEC Country reporter Hale McGranahan contributed to this report.