There are two hurdles four-star freshman Josh Belk will have to overcome if he’s going to help South Carolina’s football team this season.
The first is the NCAA. The Gamecocks are waiting for word on a waiver request they have filed that would allow Belk, who transferred from Clemson during the offseason, to play immediately rather than sitting out a season as most transfers are required to do. South Carolina officials cited a “situation with his family” in the request and are “very optimistic in his case,” Muschamp said Saturday.
The next step might be harder, and that’s trimming weight. Belk did not practice with the team during the first six days of training camp as he awaited clearance from a physical. He got on the field for the first time Friday morning, and he’s going to have to slim down to be an effective player this season, Muschamp said.
“We need to trim a little bit. We are working toward that,” Muschamp said. “You look at the job our nutrition staff did with Javon Kinlaw. It’s a process and you have to buy into that, and Josh has certainly welcomed the things we are trying to do.”
Asked what Belk’s weight is now, Muschamp replied, “I don’t know.” Asked what he’d like it to be, Muschamp replied, “I don’t know.”
The 6-foot-3 defensive tackle is listed as 359 pounds on the team’s roster. South Carolina desperately needs depth at defensive tackle and Will Mitchell, who coached Belk at Lewisville High School in Richburg, believes Belk can get down to a reasonable playing weight quickly.
He’s a different character in terms of what his body can do,” Mitchell said.
Belk reported for camp at Lewisville last year on Aug. 1 weighing 347 pounds due to offseason shoulder surgery that cost him conditioning time. By the middle of September, he weighed 307 pounds, Mitchell said.
“That’s kind of how he can do with weight,” Mitchell said. “He can just do it that way. I am not concerned with that at all. I think he’s probably a natural 310 kid. He’s just a big kid.”
Belk had a breakout high school season last year after losing that weight. He was considered one of the nation’s top 10 defensive tackle prospects after having 116 tackles, including 34 for loss and 11 sacks, as a senior, and he signed with Clemson in December. After participating in spring practice with the Tigers, he announced his intention to leave the program, and he committed to the Gamecocks in June.
“He seemed to be in good shape and ready to roll when I saw him in late July,” Mitchell said.