Josh Belk may be one of the least known players at the Army All-American Bowl this week in San Antonio.
While some of the high school football stars competing with and against Belk are household names in certain parts of the country -- future Clemson Tiger defensive end Xavier Thomas for example -- Lewisville’s Belk labored in relative obscurity in South Carolina’s 1A classification.
Belk is one of four players from The Herald’s coverage area competing in Saturday’s game at the Alamo Dome. South Pointe duo Derion Kendrick and B.T. Potter and Nation Ford’s Skyler DeLong have also been in San Antonio soaking up lavish treatment by the game’s organizers and pitting their abilities against the country’s best high school football players. Potter and DeLong will handle the East all-stars’ kicking duties, while All-Area player of the year Kendrick will line up at wide receiver, after showing off his play-making knack and scoring in the Shrine Bowl at that position.
Kendrick is a well known commodity, and Potter and DeLong are two of the best kickers in the country. Considerably less was known about Belk, though. One story on the 6-foot-3 Belk from this week in San Antonio mentioned he’d dropped 35 pounds since the start of the season to get to 315. He had a slow start to his senior season, which may explain why he was left off the Shrine Bowl and North-South all-star rosters. But he’s finished his high school career strong in San Antonio.
Belk won plaudits from recruiting web sites monitoring practices for his leverage and quickness, while showing ability to gum up the middle of the line and be an immovable force for blockers. He’s stood out among a crew of defensive linemen committed to Notre Dame, Georgia, Ohio State, Miami (Fla.) and two future Clemson teammates, Thomas and Justin Mascoll, and has grappled with opposing offensive linemen headed to many of the same schools. Belk will start Saturday’s game, according to Lewisville coach, Will Mitchell.
Belk hasn’t faced this level of competition for a week straight very often, if ever. Mitchell, who is in San Antonio for the game, reckons Lewisville is the smallest school represented this year.
“I was shocked, coming off two weeks of not playing football. I’ve been working out a little bit, but I was just shocked,” Belk said about his performance during an interview with Chad Ricardo, of the Army game.
One of the country’s top offensive line recruits out of Atlanta, Ga., Jamaree Salyer, was impressed with Belk after squaring up to him many times the past few days.
“Really strong player, really explosive and a big body. He’s hard to move,” said Salyer, the future Georgia Bulldog.
Belk was a more penetrative defensive player for Lewisville, owing partly to the level of competition, which couldn’t keep him out of the offensive backfield. He made 115 tackles, including 34 for a loss and 11 sacks, and forced seven fumbles this past season. He piled up 57 tackles-for-loss the last two seasons. But Belk wasn’t facing players from Great Falls or Timmonsville out in San Antonio.
“I think he was just unsure,” said Mitchell. “But Josh is very coachable and is great at adjusting. It’s been a great experience and he’s really, really enjoyed it.
“And I don’t think he’s taking any of this for granted. I’m looking around at some of these other prospects and some of them are in love with the being recruited part of it. We talked before he came that he had a chance to prove something. Not just for us but for small schools in general, and Lewisville specifically.”
Click on the link below to check out what Josh Belk, Derion Kendrick, B.T. Potter and Skyler DeLong have been up to this week:
Watch the 2018 Army All-American football game
Be sure to watch South Pointe’s Derion Kendrick and B.T. Potter, Nation Ford’s Skyler DeLong and Lewisville’s Josh Belk compete in Saturday’s Army All-American game. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6 and will be aired live on NBC.