USC Gamecocks Football

Shameik Blackshear: 'I am back on track and ready to play ball'

When Shameik Blackshear signed with South Carolina in 2015, not many people thought he would be around long enough to actually earn a college degree. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end from Bluffton was considered the next Jadeveon Clowney at one point and was an Under Armour All-American in his senior year of high school.

He looked like a classic three-years-and-on-to-the-NFL type of player. Now, Blackshear is on track to graduate in December with a degree in hospitality management, and almost everyone is wondering if he’ll ever actually contribute on the field for the Gamecocks.

The junior, who has totaled four tackles and no sacks in his first two seasons, gets that.

“I feel like I kind of lost the trust of everybody,” he said. “Everybody was expecting me to come in and be a huge asset to the team, and I had many setbacks. It just takes time for me to build everybody’s trust and let them know I am back on track and ready to play ball. It’s been very frustrating for me coming in as a top recruit and an All-American this and that and not seeing the time I wanted to and this is going on my fourth year.”

Blackshear’s backward slide started in high school when a knee injury cost him half his senior season and slowed him as he began his collegiate career. He also was arrested before enrolling at South Carolina and charged with petit larceny although that charge later was dropped. Then, in December of his first season, he was injured in a shooting near Founders Park. The recovery from that cost him, basically, a year of progress and physical conditioning.

Now he seems to have turned things around as both strength coach Jeff Dillman and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson have singled him out for praise this spring.

“Shameik Blackshear is doing a really good job,” Robinson said. “He had a really good offseason. We have to continue to get him better.”

The difference is work ethic, Blackshear said this week.

“After everything I have been through, I just learned that hard work will always put you through tough times, so keep working hard —you can get through anything,” he said.

Along with more working, Blackshear is going to pair less talking, which means no predictions for what he might do in 2018.

“I am not going to speak on anything,” he said. “I am just ready to work hard and see what my hard work brings me come the season.”

Blackshear is working as a second-team defensive end this spring, behind Aaron Sterling. He credits his faith and senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams for helping him turn things around.

“It was all God, a little bit myself, and me and Bryson are close. We talk, basically, every day, and he’ll be like, ‘You are an athlete, bro. You’ve got it. You just need to apply it,’ ” Blackshear said.

Which is what he’s hoping to do this fall.