Buddy Quarles mostly stayed out of his son’s recruitment.
There were plenty of suitors when 286-pound defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles came out of Greenwood High in 2010 and out of Fork Union Military Academy a year later, but it came down to South Carolina and Tennessee.
Buddy Quarles was a Gamecock in the early ’80s, but he didn’t push his son toward Columbia. Instead, he told him two things. To paraphrase:
If you go to Tennessee, I’m not driving up there in the middle of the night if you need something.
And, if you go to South Carolina, don’t expect to top what I did there.
Buddy Quarles was on the 1984 team that won 10 games, which served as the program’s high-water mark — and looked for many years since like it might do so forever.
“Man, they play in the SEC now, you will never get that,” Buddy Quarles told his son.
It took Kelcy one season to prove him wrong as the Gamecocks finished 11-2 last season.
“It’s kind of fun to pick at him about that,” Kelcy Quarles said. “I took the ring home and I put it beside his little ring, and I told him he can look at it every day he wakes up. I joke around with him about it, but he told me he wants me to break all the records.”
The rings still sit side by side in the curio cabinet in the Quarles’ home, Buddy Quarles said.
“Where everybody can gawk at them,” he said. “I never thought they would be that successful, but (coach Steve) Spurrier has put together a good team in recruiting.”
Kelcy Quarles, a sophomore starter, will return to the No. 12 Gamecocks’ lineup this week against Arkansas after missing the past two games due to a shoulder injury. Quarles, who is ninth on the team in tackles with 30 and has six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, wanted to get back on the field against Tennessee but was held out by the team’s training staff, Buddy Quarles said.
“We had to calm him down,” Buddy Quarles said. “He thought he was ready to play that Tennessee game. He called and said, ‘Daddy, they ain’t going to let me play. I know I feel good.’ I said, ‘Boy, that’s an injury, you have to sit still.’”
Buddy Quarles has attended every game his son has played at South Carolina, and he records the television broadcasts.
“I watch that thing three or four times, and every time I watch it I tell him something different he needs to be doing,” said Buddy Quarles, who played offensive line for the Gamecocks. “Sometimes he laughs it off, and sometimes he takes it seriously.”
Kelcy Quarles is one of four legacies on this year’s Gamecocks team. Freshman spur Jordan Diggs’ father, Shed Diggs, played alongside Buddy Quarles from 1984-87, and freshmen defensive linemen Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr.’s father, Gerald Dixon, played from 1990-1991.
“From the standpoint of my dad, it has been fun,” Kelcy Quarles said.
Buddy is glad to have his son close to home, although he admits he wouldn’t have minded him being a Volunteer either, except for one thing.
“I’m not going to take off in the middle of the night and run up to Tennessee through those mountains,” he said. “I’ll shoot down there in the dark in Columbia if he needs me.”