The Beaufort Gazette - - Sports - BY BEN BREINER bbreiner@thes­

When South Carolina foot­ball coach Will Muschamp was asked about his team’s sud­den po­ten­tial deficit at de­fen­sive end, the first name he reached for was Shameik Blackshear.

That’s a big step con­sid­er­ing how far the ju­nior from Bluffton has had to come.

South Carolina will likely be with­out de­fen­sive end/line­backer Bryson Allen-Wil­liams against Florida. USC still has D.J. Won­num as an an­chor on one side, and Aaron Ster­ling is likely to play de­spite a knee in­jury.

But USC will still need more beyond those two, and the 6-foot-5, 270pound Blackshear is next up af­ter a strong day against Ole Miss.

“Re­ally proud of Shameik,” Muschamp said on his weekly call-in show. “Shameik made a huge play for us on third down, a quar­ter­back keeper off what we call a quar­ter­back slice ac­tion. Made a big play on third down to force them to punt for the first time in the se­cond half. That was a big play in the game.”

He fin­ished the game with a pair of tack­les, one for loss. On that play, his holder fake forced the quar­ter­back to keep the ball and then he chased him down.

Blackshear’s star-crossed ca­reer has been well­doc­u­mented. He came to USC as a four-star, one­time five-star re­cruit. Af­ter play­ing early, he took a med­i­cal red­shirt, but not be­fore some tweets that caused a small con­tro­versy.

Then he was shot mul­ti­ple times in an in­ci­dent af­ter his fresh­man sea­son. He worked his way back, and has grown into a ro­ta­tion player. It has nei­ther been easy nor quick, but at this point, he’s be­come a con­trib­u­tor, some­thing that wasn’t a guar­an­tee even this off­sea­son.

Muschamp named other play­ers who could chip in at end: line­backer/Buck de­fen­sive end Daniel Fen­nell, Buck Brad John­son, end/tackle Keir Thomas, fresh­man tackle Kings­ley Enag­bare. But Blackshear was the first name he dropped, a player who might sud­denly find more weight on his shoul­ders as USC looks for a big up­set in The Swamp.

“He con­tin­ues to im­prove,” Muschamp said. “He con­tin­ues to pro­duce. And that’s the most im­por­tant thing he’s got to con­tinue to do. So re­ally ex­cited about Shameik.”


Shameik Blackshear, above, con­tin­ues to im­prove at de­fen­sive end, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp says.

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