COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina says highly touted freshman defensive lineman Josh Belk has been declared eligible to play immediately and doesn't have to sit out a year under NCAA transfer rules.

Belk graduated from high school in December and enrolled at rival Clemson. He later told Tigers coach Dabo Swinney that circumstances changed in his life and asked to leave.

Coming out of Lewisville High School, Belk was ranked as the 96th best college prospect by ESPN and could be an important part of the Gamecocks' defense.

Belk is eligible to play Saturday when South Carolina opens the season against Coastal Carolina.

The Gamecocks made a similar request for immediate eligibility for former Southern Cal defensive back Jamel Cook but have not heard from the NCAA.

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