After a freshman season in which he started 10 games, South Carolina offensive lineman Brandon Shell wants to get better at everything.
Steve Spurrier would like that, too, and not just from Shell, but from all his offensive linemen.
“Our offensive line has got to learn how to block,” the Gamecocks’ coach said Thursday after his team’s first spring scrimmage. “They are pretty good at everything except blocking. Unfortunately, that’s all we ask them to do.”
Shell, a 6-foot-6, 321-pound Goose Creek native, started last season at left tackle, and the Gamecocks hoped he would hold down the spot for the next four years. With the ideal frame and a five-star recruiting rank plus the right lineage (his uncle Art Shell is an NFL Hall of Famer at the position), it seemed a natural fit. Instead, it lasted one game.
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Shell did not start the next three games and when he returned to the starting lineup in week five against Kentucky, it was at right tackle, where he played throughout high school. Shell is again at right tackle this spring, with Corey Robinson on the left side.
“It is going pretty good,” Shell said. “I think I am starting to learn plays better, starting to get my steps down better. It’s a big learning process for me now. I watch film, just looking at how I can progress on the things I do and the steps I can take.”
There are spots in every area of Shell’s game that he’s working to fix, he said.
“He’s coming around,” Spurrier said. “He struggled at times last year. I think he’ll be a lot better this year, I really do. He and Corey Robinson, physically they could be those Alabama linemen, they really could be. (Offensive line coach Shawn) Elliott has got to get them there. (Shell) played pretty well (in 2012.) He just missed a few guys here and there. We are expecting him to play a little better.”
Shell is down 10 pounds this spring after playing at more than 330 pounds last year, and he hopes to be down to 315 in the fall.
“I think it’s a better weight for me,” he said. “I feel better. I feel more in shape. I feel like I can move a little quicker, too.”
Offensive tackles Cody Gibson and Mike Matulis are expected to return from injury in the fall, but Shell looks entrenched for another year as the starter at the position where he was named a freshman All-American by FoxSportsNext.com last year.
“Whatever coach Elliott decides, coach Elliott decides. I am just going to work,” Shell said. “I don’t feel like I have reached my full potential yet. There is a lot of room to get better. In my mind, I know I can get better.”
Video: Practice/scrimmage sights and sounds
Video: Steve Spurrier