Lewisville defensive tackle Josh Belk spurned South Carolina the first time around in his recruiting process.
He'll still spend his first fall on a college campus in Columbia.
Belk announced he's joining South Carolina football Friday night, weeks after departing from rival Clemson. The four-star defensive tackle enrolled early with the Tigers, went through spring practice and will now have to sit out the 2018 season as a transfer.
“I am thankful for the opportunity I had at Clemson University,” Belk tweeted on Friday night. “I am most thankful to the University of South Carolina coaches, staff and players for welcoming me into their program with open arms and allowing me the opportunity to play college football at the highest level of competition while being closer to my family."
Belk was a four-star prospect, ranked No. 102 in the final 247 composite rankings for 2018, seventh among defensive tackles and second in the state. South Carolina was recruiting him hard through 2016 before he committed to the Tigers in late January of 2017.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound lineman finished his senior season with 116 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, seven caused fumbles, a recovered fumble and a pass deflection. He was a U.S. Army All-American.
"The University of South Carolina is home for me," Belk tweeted. "I will be spending the remainder of my collegiate career wearing garnet and black in Columbia, SC playing for Coach Will Muschamp and the USC Gamecocks."
Belk's former high school coach, Will Mitchell, said in mid-May that Belk was trying to get closer to home when he announced that he was leaving Clemson because of a family situation. Since then, Belk visited USC and Georgia, and denied rumors South Carolina spoke to him before he made his decision to leave.
"It was like, the relationship hasn't changed," Belk said after his visit. "They still welcomed me in like it was the beginning of the recruiting process. Just talked to coach Muschamp, and he showed me the new facility they are building and told me about how I can help the team out and how good of a player I can be."
While at Clemson, Belk did impress his coaches in at least one practice, earning praise from Dabo Swinney as he went against five-star offensive lineman Jackson Carman.
“When it’s just low man wins and leverage, he’s pretty good. He gets his hands on you, he’s strong, he can move people,” Swinney said. “You weigh him down with all the scheme and alignments and all them details that really kind of matter, he’s a freshman. So he’s going to be a good one. He’s got all the good stuff, all the tools, but we’ve got a lot of work to do there as far as getting him to where he can be an every-down player.”
Clemson granted him an unconditional release.
He'll join a position group that could be somewhat in flux the next time he can play. USC's front is anchored by Javon Kinlaw, but he could leave for the NFL if he has a strong 2018 season. Past him, USC has a range of intriguing options, but none are yet proven in larger roles.
Belk will have four seasons to play after redshirting in 2018.
South Carolina has acquired an impressive amount of defensive line talent over the past few weeks.
In addition to Belk, five-star defensive end Zacch Pickens committed to South Carolina on May 25, while four-star defensive end Joseph Anderson committed to the Gamecocks last Friday.