High School Sports

North South game: Quarles can't hide excitement

ROEBUCK - Kelcy Quarles is a firm believer that the days of "New Carolina" have arrived.

The phrase adopted by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier prior to this season has given the Greenwood defensive tackle and USC commitment something to be excited about.

"When you hear the term 'New Carolina,' it's setting in now," Quarles said after a practice for Saturday's 73rd annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

"Commitments like me and A.J. (Cann) and a couple of more, we're going to keep turning it on around and compete in the SEC and for a national championship."

Quarles, who at 6-foot-4, 265-pounds is rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, committed to USC in November 2008.

He had 77 tackles, 17.5 for loss, nine sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks this year.

Quarles is hoping he will earn early playing time in Columbia, as so many true freshmen have become accustomed to under Spurrier.

"It excites you because you know you won't be sitting on the bench. You will be able to get your feet wet," Quarles said. "You'll have coaches there to help bring you along. They won't throw you out there if you are not ready."

Quarles believes that the Gamecocks will carry the momentum off a 34-17 victory against their in-state rival into the Papajohns.com Bowl against Connecticut on Jan. 2.

"Coming off the Clemson win, you have to keep building on it. You don't want to win and then think that game was your bowl game and then lose (against UConn)," he said. "I don't think that is their mindset, that the Clemson win was good enough and be done with it. I think they will turn it up a notch (in the bowl game) and get this one."

Quarles wants to end his prep career on a positive note with a victory in Saturday's Shrine Bowl.

He said getting to know other USC commitments such as Dylan Thompson (Boiling Springs), A.J. Cann (Bamberg-Ehrhardt) and Brandon Golson (Calhoun County) has helped build cohesiveness.

"It's great. You're getting started early (building relationships)," Quarles said. "It's a great feeling playing with your future teammates."

Quarles said he is excited about putting on a Gamecocks uniform and taking the field against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 2.

"It gives me chills just thinking about it. I'm going to be ready," he said. "I'm not going to be nervous. I played on a big stage every Friday at Greenwood.

"I'll just go in there ready and play my hardest."