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, 270-pound Blackshear is next up after a strong day against Ole Miss.
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“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 well-documented. He came to USC as a four-star, one-time 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.”