University of South Carolina Gamecocks
Hodges, South Carolina
Fork Union Military Academy
Greenwood High School
Quarles is a natural under-tackle, a position that was made popular by former Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer John Randle. Much like Randle, Quarles takes advantage of his long reach (80 3/8-inch wingspan) and explosive burst off the line of scrimmage to win most one-on-one battles. While line-mate Jadeveon Clowney has had great success getting to the quarterback, you can see on the game films that few defensive tackles possess the suddenness and power crashing through the gaps that Quarles displays.
More often than not, a lethargic offensive lineman is observing as Quarles explodes past their block by simply using an over-arm swim move. Those trying to ride him wide have difficulties making reach blocks, as Quarles is very active using his hands to defeat such a move. The fullback needs to be constantly alert to the Gamecock, as most defensive tackles do not have the lateral agility and pursuit skills the junior can generate.
The defensive tackle first caught attention of recruiters during his junior season at Green-wood (S.C.) High School. That season, he earned second-team all-state honors after logging 75 tackles, including 21 for a loss, and 17 sacks. He was named to the Parade Magazine's 47th annual All-American High School Football Team and again garnered all-state honors as a senior as selected by The State.
In 2010, Quarles logged 77 tackles (41 solos), nine sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries (one for touchdown) and two blocked kicks. He was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was ranked as the 19th-best defensive lineman in the country by Super Prep and rated 53rd on Prep Star's Top 150 Dream Team.
Quarles was given a three-star rating and regarded as the 33rd-best defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com. He was also rated a four-star prospect, the 11th-best defensive tackle and 124th overall on ESPN.com's Top 150. He also lettered in track, performing in the weight events.
Quarles had scholarship offers from Clemson, Louisiana State, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Florida State and North Carolina, but decided to stay close to home when he signed his national letter of intent to attend South Carolina in February, 2010. He would have to wait another season to enroll, though, as he first attended Fork Union Military Academy to improve his academics.
When Quarles finally arrived at South Carolina in 2011, he was immediately thrust into the defensive tackle rotation, eventually forcing his way into the lineup at weak-side tackle for his final six appearances. He earned Freshman All-American honors after posting 28 tackles with a pair of stops for losses and four quarterback pressures.
Quarles battled through shoulder issues as a sophomore, missing two games, but started all 11 contests that he played in. An early schedule injury to his shoulder vs. Louisiana State would linger, but he still managed to deliver on eight stops behind the line of scrimmage and was in on 38 tackles (23 solos) that included 3.5 sacks.
Prior to the 2013 season opener, coaches and players noticed a change in Quarles on the football field. Quiet to a fault in the past, he took on much more of a leadership role and had to be asked by the staff to "amp it down" in practices, as he was manhandling Game-cocks offensive linemen.
One sports writer witnessing his dominance in August camp noted, "as long as he can stay healthy, he should once again be a leader on a veteran South Carolina defensive line. Barring injury, he could make a run at All-SEC honors, potentially launching him into a decision to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft." Lo and behold, that would all came to pass. Quarles would depart for the NFL on the heels of a magnificent season, and there's really little argument vs. his doing so.
A prep school placement, Quarles had worked his way up the depth chart and was a fixture on the defensive line since taking over as a starter midway through the 2011 season. He's presided shoulder-to-shoulder with Clowney over the Gamecocks' run of 11-win seasons. He was twice named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, as he made 39 tackles while leading the team with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 stops-for-loss.
Quarles finished third in the conference in both of those categories. He earned All-American and All-SEC honors. Few on the staff held out hope he'd stick around for a senior season, especially after his father revealed Kelcy's plans to declare in early November. While the younger Quarles downplayed the report — likely a display of his characteristic team-first mentality — the writing was on the wall.
Quarles appeared in 35 games, starting 28 contests at South Carolina… Recorded 105 tackles (66 solos) with 13 sacks for minus-111 yards, 23.5 stops for losses of 147 yards and eight quarterback pressures…Also recovered a fumble and deflected a pass.