Mackey Denied by Clearinghouse

The recruitment of four-star defensive end Leon Mackey was a long and winding road. The news broke today that he had not been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, and will not be able to enroll at South Carolina this fall. Read inside for the full story of what happened, and where the talented defensive end prospect goes from here, exclusively on

Leon Mackey was not cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse due to some online courses he took from Brigham Young University not being accepted by the clearinghouse. Mackey initially signed a letter-of-intent with Virginia Tech in February of 2008, but then continued to attend Hargrave Military Academy as a post-grad student when he couldn't get into VT for academic reasons.

Mackey reopened his recruiting and was hotly pursued by the many of the top teams in the SEC and the ACC, making a verbal commitment to Clemson before finally making the choice of signing with South Carolina. Selecting the Gamecocks was in part due to the fact that he could play immediately for the Gamecocks, whereas due to ACC rules he would have had to sit out a year at Clemson after having initially signed with another ACC school in Virginia Tech.

His arrival in Columbia was highly anticipated, his position on the football field being one where his talents were wanted and needed. But he won't be suiting up in the garnet and black this fall, and when or if he ever will remains to be determined.

Mackey left Hargrave after the fall semester of his second year there with the intent of taking online classes to complete the remaining classes he needed for college entrance requirements. Sources tell GamecockAnthem that while the BYU online school is not one of the schools officially flagged by the NCAA, classes taken there by athletes struggling to make it into college were looked at closely this year.

Athletes like Mackey that took BYU courses were being required to provide the NCAA with their class "Work product" - documentation of all the work they did related to the classes taken, not just the grades showing they had passed the proctored tests. This is a much higher standard than is normally required in similar situations. Mackey's transcripts included grades from his original high school, two sets of Hargrave transcripts - pre and post high school graduate coursework done there, as well as the online course work he took from BYU.

According to what we've been told, Mackey's choices now are either to return to prep school, or attend a junior college. If he goes the prep school route and fulfills his academic requirements, provided his transcripts are then accepted by the NCAA Clearinghouse, that would enable him to enroll in USC next fall and not have used up any of his college eligibility, if he so chooses. Should he go the junior college route, the time spent at the JUCO would count against his five years to play four eligibility clock.

Stay tuned to for the latest on Mackey and which route he will pursue.

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