Kelcy Quarles' journey to South Carolina took a different path than he expected, and he's happy to finally be a Gamecock.
Quarles, a 6-4, 265-pound defensive tackle from Greenwood, signed with the Gamecocks in February 2010 and was named to Parade Magazine’s All-America team. After not qualifying academically, he spent a semester to Fork Union and then enrolled at USC for the spring.
His father Buddy Quarles played at USC from 1984-87 for Joe Morrison.
Quarles could play both end and tackle at USC. He played both at Fork Union.
Talk about your first day and finally being a Gamecock.
Walking out here in that helmet felt real good. I just wanted to make it here. All the things I've been through, just making it here made me happy and my parents proud.
Talk about reuniting with Marcus Lattimore, Dylan Thompson and other friends.
That's been great. It's been so much fun, coming back with them guys, being roommates with them, just going out and doing things teammates should. We feel like brothers. Just getting here in winter workouts, working with the D-line and the team, it felt so good to get down here. It was like a dream come true. I'm just ready to do the things we said we were going to do when we committed.
What are some of your personal goals this spring?
Just to learn the defense, run around and make plays, listen to coach [Brad] Lawing, work on my fundamentals, get in better shape. I'm in good shape, but I want to get in better shape, gain a little more weight. Just get in there and contribute like I know I can.
What has coach Lawing said about your role?
He's expecting me to do big things coming in during the spring. It really puts me ahead of some things, going through winter workouts and getting adjusted to college life. He really wants me to come in and make a real big impact on the defensive line. That's what I want to do.
Talk about the talent on the defensive line.
It's awesome. With the recruits we've got coming in, we should have the best defensive line in the nation. We will have the best defensive line in the nation. As long as we listen to coach Lawing, stay disciplined and play our assignments, we'll be fine.
Talk about your journey here and some of the things you learned along the way.
You learn not to take anything for granted. You learn to appreciate your parents and the people you have in your life. You don't want to take advantage of the classroom when somebody's trying to help you. Do things right the first time.
What is some of the advice your family gave you?
The focus really was with my dad first. But finally coming and playing, my mom told me to keep God first, do things the right way, keep working hard. I had a problem with my confidence, putting myself down, people telling me I'm not going to make it from Fork Union. I just put that behind me and said let's go for it, do the things you know you can do and use the talent God blessed you with, and you'll be fine.
Has Marcus Lattimore been a good friend throughout your process?
He's a good friend all around. He helps me when I need him. Travian [Robertson] really took me up under his wings. It's like brothers, like a big family. It's so fun going into that weight room. You hate getting up at 6:30, but when you look and know these guys are going to be in there fighting with you and lifting with you and going through the same thing you're going through, it's a great thing.
Do you fully expect to play this fall?
I'm making full expectations to play. I'm going to keep working hard, stay disciplined and grounded, and do what I need to do.
How happy are you to be here?
Just walking out that gate every day and looking at that stadium, thinking "I'm going to be playing in this." That's the only thing I'm thinking about every day.