Former Clemson defensive lineman Josh Belk announced in a tweet Friday night that he will, indeed, continue his career at South Carolina. On Sunday night, he talked about finalizing what had been expected since he announced his departure from Clemson in mid-May.
"South Carolina was just the best fit for me," said Belk, who visited USC onFriday and Saturday. "There was no reason to keep on dragging it on. I talked to my family and that was the best fit, so I just wanted that to be known. Hanging with those guys, I formed a relationship with them, my new teammates."
There were a couple of overriding factors for why he picked the Gamecocks this time around, he said.
"Because of the location. It's only an hour at the most from my house," Belk said. "Coaches there, when I committed to Clemson over them, they wished you well. It wasn't like they down-talked to me like, 'You messed up.' They wished me well. So, when I decided to transfer, the relationship picked up where they left off. There wasn't a difference. It was eye-opening, shocking to me because after I had chosen another team and it kind of hit them hard, the love was still there.It wasn't anything different."
Belk is a big pickup for USC coach Will Muschamp and his defensive staff. Muschamp and defensive line coach Lance Thompson had a plan for Belk while recruiting him out of Lewisville High School. They kept those notes handy for this second chance with Belk.
"My size and speed and my feet. They said I'll be a good help to the team because I can move all around the defensive line with them in their packages that they run," said Belk, who is holding out hope for becoming eligible this season. "Yes sir, yes sir, I hope so."
Belk said his attorney, Everett Stubbs, plans to ask the NCAA for a hardship waiver.
The plan for him is to enroll in August regardless of what the NCAA says about the waiver request, he said. If denied, he would sit out the 2018 season, per NCAA transfer rules.
So, Belk's career path has taken a turn he did not expect when he signed with Clemson last December. His wardrobe has changed from orange and white to garnet and black, and so has his perspective on things.
"It made me a way more mature person than I was before," Belk said. "That was big step to go to coach (Dabo) Swinney and talk to him face-to-face about a situation as big as that. That's a life-changing decision. And I respect him 100 percent, him and his staff, 100 percent. Hands down to them because he made it happen to where I could open back up to any school that I wanted to. Normally, that doesn't happen. I respected him, and he respected me. He looked out for me on that one. He's all the things they put about him. He's a man of his word, and he's a player's coach. He looked out for me."
However, Belk said, the fondness for his former coach can only go so far.
"All respect there off the field," he said, "but when it's on the field, it's grind time."