Lewisville football coach Will Mitchell leaned on the fence next to a Power-5 conference college football assistant coach Wednesday watching some of his Lions football players play 7-on-7.
Mitchell is always happy to have college football coaches leaning on the fence next to him, but especially this spring. He was worried that Josh Belk’s commitment to Clemson in late January would dry up the rushing torrent of college coaches that were exiting I-77 to stop by Richburg during recruiting periods the last three years.
But that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, it’s remained steady and other Lions are continuing to benefit from Belk’s immense presence.
In 10 games last fall, Josh Belk made 23 tackles-for-loss for Lewisville football.
Junior Quentin Sanders is the most recent to do so. He pulled his first football scholarship offer on Wednesday, from Marshall University. It was a verbal offer, made over the phone and easier to rescind than hand-written ones, but an FBS scholarship offer all the same for the 6-foot, 180-pound athlete.
“I was like... ugh, thank you coach,” Sanders said. “It shocked me a little bit. Now I’m about to put my boys on the map, Mikial and Jaylen.”
Sanders referenced classmates Mikial Fourney and Jaylen McFadden, also college football prospects, especially the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Fourney, who Mitchell expects to have an FBS offer by the end of the spring. Lewisville’s coach thinks the Marshall offer may get Sanders’ recruitment rolling too.
“The first question we get from all these coaches, every college coach, is who else has offered?” said Mitchell. “And to get that first one, it validates a lot of what we tell the kids.
“Josh is a good football player. When he’s 25, he’s gonna be a great football player. But he got attention before he was a good football player. I spend a lot of time telling those kids that a rising tide floats all boats. It’s good for everybody.”
247sports ranks Belk the second best recruit in South Carolina’s junior class - behind South Pointe’s Derion Kendrick (now that Florence’s Xavier Thomas moved to Florida) - and the 10th best defensive tackle nationally. Belk will get the chance to prove himself nationally next winter when he plays in the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando.
South Pointe alums Jadeveon Clowney, Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman and Chester’s C.C. Whitlock are the four locals that previously played in the Under Armour All-American all-star football game.
Hundreds of active NFL players have participated in the game, including Jadeveon Clowney.
In a way, Belk’s participation in the game is “Helping my teammates out, putting the spotlight on the school,” he said.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound tackle showed his dominance more consistently last fall even while playing the entire season with a torn labrum. He had surgery on it after Christmas and is aiming for a completely healthy senior season. Besides the torn labrum, he missed two games last season after stepping in a hole and injuring his foot.
Belk was asked what he wanted to show this fall and he answered quickly: motor.
“Got to prove that a little more, being in shape a little more,” he said. “I’m watching what I’m eating and drinking water. Lots of water.”
Sanders and Belk were in good shape academically when college coaches came calling; both have GPAs over 3.0 in their core classes and Belk plans to graduate in December so that he can enroll early at Clemson, heading straight to Death Valley after the Under Armour game in early January.
Sanders will keep looking for scholarship options. Mitchell said that N.C. State and Virginia Tech are also interested in him. Sanders projects as a likely defensive back and said he’ll work on his DB technique extensively this summer. He plans to visit Marshall and N.C. State, and probably South Carolina. He’ll go to those camps with his chest, muscled as it is from three years of weight-lifting, puffed out a little further.
“Now I know I can play D-I football,” said Sanders. “It made it a little more real.”