There's no question that Greenwood three-star DL prospect Kelcy Quarles likes to keep people on their toes. A quick glance at South Carolina's 2010 commitment list would make it appear that Quarles' recruitment was very tame in an age when commitments, de-commitments and re-commitments are all the rage. Technically, Quarles has remained committed to the Gamecocks since he gave his pledge in his high school's auditorium in November of 2009. But his recruitment has not been without some twists along the way.
Comments about a potential de-commitment in March, multiple comments about taking official visits to programs like Tennessee, North Carolina and LSU, and even a promise to "shock the world" on Signing Day have all left Gamecock fans wondering at times what Quarles intentions actually were.
But Quarles, who's loyalties were never truly in doubt, says he won't be playing any games leading up to Feb. 3 when he will ink his signature with the Gamecocks.
"I'm a Gamecock, I'm not going on any visits," Quarles told GamecockAnthem.com. "The Tennessee situation, it kind of went crazy after [I said I would 'shock the world']. People kept calling and texting me asking if I'm going to Tennessee. I'm not going to Tennessee. I want to come home and see my family and everybody and be just as close as I am now. I'm a Gamecock, and I would not dare de-commit and try to go to any other school and try to pull any tricks or nothing like that. I'm done. I read about Eric Mack and all of them saying their recruitment is done, so I'm done too."
Quarles, the son of former Gamecock Buddy Quarles, just spent this weekend with Mack and a host of other Gamecock commitments when he took his official visit to South Carolina.
"I got to get along with all the players," he said of the visit, "and it felt like we were already all on the team. We were going out with the players the entire weekend, it felt like we already had a bond. That's what really made the visit a lot better."
Quarles, who says he also enjoyed playing the games at Jillian's, was blown away by the fan response at the USC basketball game against Vanderbilt that the group of visitors attended.
"Every time you walked up the steps," Quarles explained, "everybody was yelling your name and your parents' names and saying, 'we're happy we got you,' and 'can't wait till you get here.' It only makes you want to work harder and make you want to lift harder, make you want to work harder in school. That's all we think about: get in school, get in school, get in school, work harder, you know, playing time, that's all you think about. That doesn't do anything but push me and motivate me, because they're saying they are committed to the team no matter what."
Quarles was hosted on the visit by current South Carolina defensive tackle
Travian Robertson. Robertson came to South Carolina as a defensive end, before eventually growing into his current position, and Carolina has a similar plan for the 6-4, 275-pound Quarles.
"He just told me to come in and enjoy my freshman year and that one thing South Carolina does well is help you make that high school to college transition," Quarles said of Robertson's advice to him. "He told me a lot of pointers about things, and said he was going to help me out with it. He just told me that at this time to work my butt off, because they want me in their rotation, want me to play.
"Every time I see Cliff Matthews, he says, 'I'm waiting on you, I'm waiting to play with you.' I take that as a big honor, the caliber of a player that he is, for him to tell a high school player that. He just tells me to come out there and give it my all."
Quarles developed a relationship with Matthews earlier in the process, and has remained in touch with the rising senior All-SEC performer. He believes the fact Matthews decided to stay for his senior year is an indication of the overall direction of the program.
"If a player such as that stays for his fourth year, I feel like it's something down there that's saying that 'it's coming'. Like Coach Spurrier says, it's a pot of gold waiting for us and when we get it Columbia is going to go crazy. I feel like this year is going to be the break out year for us. You can ask any recruit, any player that's down there, anybody is going to tell you that they feel that this is the year."
The versatile defensive line prospect was also able to spend time with head football coach Steve Spurrier. While Spurrier has sometimes been characterized as unapproachable, Quarles says he didn't feel that way at all.
"All these things about, 'he's so uptight,' he's not like that," Quarles says. "He's just like a regular coach to me. He's cool, he talks to you, asks you about everything, will have a real good conversation with you. He's not all about football, he'll talk to you about whatever you want to talk about.
"And to be sitting in his office and see all of his accomplishments and accolades, his trophies and everything, it was a real honor to be sitting in his office. And it's going to be a real honor to be coached by him knowing he told me that he's not going anywhere and this is going to be where he retires. That was good to know."
When he enrolls at USC, Quarles hopes to team up with fellow defensive line commitment J.T. Surratt, who also took his official visit to Columbia this weekend. Quarles says the two are looking to push each other to new heights at the next level.
"He's a great player; he's awesome. He's like one of those Nathan Pepper types playing nose [guard]," Quarles said. "He weighed in at like 6-1, 6-2, 295 [pounds], so he's big enough to play. We both love lifting weights. We've got some of the same characteristics and every time I talk about something he tries to match it. We keep telling each other we're going to out-work each other. We're going to see who can max the most. I believe me and him are going to come in and fit right in with the group."
Quarles will hope to make a quick impact when he arrives, and already has goals in mind.
"My goal when I first get down there is to get my name out there and let everybody know that I'm here, that I'm not going anywhere for four years, and that every time I put my hand down, every time you put your hand down, it's going to be a fight. And I want to get a few sacks, but most of all I want to help the team, I want to help do whatever it takes for the team to win. All I want to do is win."
And he plans on doing a lot of winning.
"I always say the sky is the limit. We're going to beat Florida. I don't care what anybody says, we're going to beat Florida. I don't care what kind of recruits they have, or who you get, or whatever, we're going to beat Florida, you can quote me on that one. We're going to win the SEC Championship. What people don't understand, is when I went to the Army All-American Bowl they were laughing when I said I was committed to South Carolina.
"What people don't understand is that South Carolina wasn't far from beating the National Champion and both teams in the SEC Championship. They just don't know what's coming for them, because we're coming for them. I think the offensive line is what we need to improve on and we've got seven good ones coming in. We're all going to go down there and work hard, and we're going to get an SEC Championship, because I feel like we care more and we want it badder than past teams."
Before all that can take place, Quarles will have to sign on the dotted line Feb. 3 at Greenwood High, the same place he made his commitment in the beginning. No twists. No games. And no shocking the world.
"Well first I'm going to thank God for giving me the talent for the game of football and giving me the opportunity to get all these offers," Quarles says of how he will feel. "When I sign I feel like I'm going to be a part of a great family, a great team, and I just feel like I'm going to owe it to South Carolina to work my butt off, to work my butt off in the classroom. I'm going to feel like I just signed my way into a family and a winning family that's going to go get it.
"And I'll feel like I'm going to make a lot of people, most of all my dad, happy, my mom, happy, for them staying on me, they're going to feel good that they don't have to pay for college. They can just come down on Saturday and watch me play. All my loved ones, all the work they put in, and [all the times they] kept pushing me and telling me to keep going and not to quit -- and my coaches -- they're going to feel like I did what I was supposed to do and I accomplished the goals that I set when I got to high school. When I sign that piece of paper I'll feel like, well, I did it."