Shameik Blackshear’s career has been a rocky journey, from the high recruiting rating, to a questionable tweet, to a scary situation in which he was shot ... to now.
But his coach believes in him, and believes he could be a factor in his fourth year on campus.
“Shameik, for the first time, I really feel like can be a major contributor for us,” Muschamp said. “It’s a guy that’s really gotten much stronger, and that was really his weakness at the point of attack. To be able to hold up on some of the blocks, especially when you play what I call an even technique, a heads-up technique. He’s done a much better job of that.”
Blackshear was at one point in high school a five-star recruit at Bluffton High School before a knee injury late in his career and an arrest before arriving on campus (the charges were dropped). He played in two games as a freshman, took a medical redshirt and at one point fired off a cryptic tweet seemingly questioning his choice to come to USC.
That December, he was injured in a shooting.
He played in nine games in 2016, despite the incident limiting his offseason work. He got into seven of the final eight games of 2017, making six tackles in a reserve role.
Fans and those around the program long have wondered if he’d be able to make good on his perceived talents, and his coach thinks something helped push him over.
“Sometimes it takes time to mature and for some of those guys to see and understand what it takes to be a really good player,” Muschamp said. “He needs to be a major contributor in the fall.”
Specifically, that’s about the 6-foot5, 267-pounder’s work with strength coach Jeff Dillman.
The shooting set him back on that front, but Muschamp said there was also an attitude element that’s changed.
“He’s still rededicated himself in the weight room, kind of like (projected starting right tackle) Blake Camper,” Muschamp said. “Both of those guys’ bodies have changed in the last year. And a total commitment to nutrition, weight room, what it takes to be a really good player. Some guys think you show up to the weight room, you practice a little bit and watch. It’s not. It’s a total commitment, and that’s the stuff that I’ve seen from Shameik in the last year.”