South Carolina has a franchise tailback and a franchise receiver. Now the Gamecocks just need a similarly rated quarterback and offensive tackle.
They could fill that final need in the Class of 2011. Goose Creek offensive lineman Brandon Shell is among the state’s top prospects and is widely considered one of the more promising senior tackles in the nation. The 6-foot-7, 290-pounder has all the makings of a college standout.
“The good Lord blessed with him with unbelievable size and athletic ability,” Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy said. “If you were going to draw up the ideal tackle, he’s it. On top of that, he’s genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever been around. You put all that together and he’s a great prospect with a great future in front of him.”
Shell has narrowed his suitors to USC, Clemson, Georgia and Alabama. He hasn’t named a favorite and likely won’t make his choice until National Signing Day in February.
It may not be until that day that the public gains any insight into his thought process. Shell has maintained a relatively low profile in the media and routinely shuns interview requests, Reedy said.
Shell projects as a college left tackle. He has played right tackle for most of his two seasons at Goose Creek – Shell spent two seasons at West Ashley before transferring – though Reedy considered moving him to the other side last season.
However, he ultimately didn’t want to change Shell’s mechanics and it worked better for the team to have him on the right side. Reedy, a long-time college assistant and head coach, believes it won’t take long for Shell to adapt to playing left tackle.
“With the reach that he has and the wing span, he’s a natural left tackle,” Reedy said.
Shell has been learning the art of playing tackle for many years. He is the great-nephew of NFL Hall of Fame tackle Art Shell. Those connections have helped mold Shell into an elite prospect, Reedy said.
Typically, the transition from high school to college offensive lineman is one of the most difficult. That’s why linemen usually redshirt and often do not see significant playing time until their third season on campus. If Shell can add strength – Reedy believes that’s one of his few deficiencies – he could contribute early in his career.
“The whole family is football oriented,” Reedy said. “They’ve all got a great football intellect. All of those things have made him further along and more developed in high school than most guys.
“Athletically he will be able [to contribute early]. He’s got good strength. He’s a 300-pound bencher, but he needs to be a 350- to 400-pound bench guy. I’m using bench as a benchmark. He’s strong for a young guy that’s that tall and rangy, but he needs to get stronger. But certainly wherever he goes, he’ll be as athletic as any linemen they have.”