Belk

Former Lewisville High School star defensive end Josh Belk is transferring from Clemson before his first season with Tigers. Provided

CLEMSON — One of the most hotly pursued in-state football prospects from this year’s recruiting class is back on the market, and the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry could have a new chapter depending on what he does next.

Freshman defensive tackle Josh Belk, who enrolled at Clemson in January and participated in spring practice, is transferring. Belk announced his decision Wednesday on Twitter through a statement from attorney Everett B. Stubbs in Chester, near Belk’s hometown of Fort Lawn. Belk attended Lewisville High School.

“Josh Belk has been released from Clemson University and the Clemson University Football Program upon request made by Josh Belk to Coach Dabo Swinney on the evening of May 12, 2018,” the statement read. “Circumstances of Mr. Belk’s life have led him to request a full unconditional release from Coach Swinney that was graciously granted by Coach Swinney and the University in a timely manner.”

Belk Tweeted the statement and added his thanks and appreciation to Clemson, also saying he had nothing bad to say about the university and his short stay there.

“Just feel it’s the best decision for my family and I,” he said.

Belk didn’t announce where he would head next, but there is speculation that he might end up at South Carolina. Clemson put no restrictions on Belk’s new school and Columbia is less than an hour from Fort Lawn.

The Chester News & Reporter spoke to Lewisville High coach Will Mitchell, who confirmed Belk’s departure and said that Belk’s mother has health issues. The paper also said that USC would be a logical choice for Belk after USC heavily recruited him during his high school days.

Belk was considered the No. 2 prospect in the state and a Top-100 prospect overall. The defensive tackle had 116 tackles with 34 for loss and 11 sacks as a senior and was selected for the U.S. Army All-American Game.

He committed to Clemson in January 2017 and enrolled a year later, and reports from spring practice were glowing. Belk figured to play right away although the Tigers have a loaded defensive line.

Belk will have to sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules before playing in 2019, with four years of eligibility.

Follow David Cloninger on Twitter @DCPandC.