Instate 4-star DT taking time with recruiting process


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Josh Belk at Clemson's spring game
Josh Belk at Clemson's spring game

One of the most heavily targeted Palmetto State prospects in the Class of 2018 has yet to play a full season of varsity football. Still, rising junior Josh Belk already holds offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, LSU, Ohio State, Florida State, North Carolina and NC State.

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive tackle at Richburg's Lewisville High – a Class A school 20 minutes south of Rock Hill – has been heavily recruited by the Tigers and Gamecocks, among others. A number of recruiting observers predict Belk will eventually play in either Columbia or Clemson.

“For a kid from a small school who hasn't played a lot of football yet, he's doing very well,” Lewisville coach William Mitchell said of his star defender. “He's handling it pretty good, so that's a good thing. He's got a long way to go, development-wise, but he's doing well in the classroom and hasn't let things get to his head, even though he's gotten some pretty high-level attention. He seems to be keeping it in stride.”

Even before his sophomore season, 247Sports ranked him as the No. 29 prospect in the country for the 2018 class. Scout.com rates Belk with four stars and lists him as the No. 50 prospect nationally.

Mitchell told TigerNet that Belk's ability to trim down from his freshman weight of 338 pounds is testament to the athlete's work ethic.

“He's still got a lot to learn,” he said by phone recently. “But just in terms of athleticism and strength and speed combination, he can do – and he knows this, he's humble about it – he was gifted by the good Lord to do things a lot of people just can't do, even at his size. You're talking about a kid who was 338 pounds in January of his ninth-grade year, and he's about 285 now.”

Mitchell expects Belk, who recently turned heads at The Opening Charlotte Regional, to attend a couple of camps this summer, likely at Clemson and South Carolina.

“He's a bright enough kid that he kind of wants to look around,” the coach said. “He certainly likes both those places, and really likes those staffs, and they've both done a very good job of recruiting him and building a relationship with him. But I think he does want to at least ... he's not a kid who just because it's a fun visit and everybody gets around him at the end of the visit and says, 'Come on, go ahead and commit' – he's just not gonna do that. He's going to be a kid who gets home and talks about it with his folks.

“He's indicated to me he wants to at least look and check some places and see what's going on, and Carolina and Clemson both know that, and they understand.”

Jeff Scott and Dan Brooks have been the primary Clemson coaches recruiting Belk, according to 247Sports.

Mitchell said Belk, who recently turned 16, is on track to graduate in December 2017, “so I'd imagine this time next year he'll have it all said and done.”

In the meantime, the big-time attention is likely to keep coming his way, as Belk continues to bounce back from a sprained MCL that sidelined him for the first five games this past season. Mitchell credits Belk's physicality and character as the traits most appealing to big-time college programs.

“On the outside is sheer athleticism – in terms of stuff like flexibility, agility, quickness,” he said. “A lot of things have come very natural to him. Keep in mind that with his injury ... he's only played about nine varsity football games.

“Internally – because we're around him and all, we know – Josh has a lot of intangibles: a very high-character kid, all A's and B's in the classroom. Very hardworking in the weight room – that's how he's changed his body type. Those things combined – obviously he passes the eyeball test as soon as anybody sees him. And then once they talk to him and learn a little bit more about him, he doesn't do anything but continue to impress.”

Belk could see his stock rise even further with a successful junior season. And whether this Lewisville Lion chooses to become a Tiger, a Gamecock or something else entirely will remain a topic of speculation in the coming months.

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