When Shameik Blackshear put his name into the NCAA transfer portal, several schools quickly reached out, including Virginia Tech and Virginia, but only one head coach made direct contact.
That was TCU head coach Gary Patterson, and that’s why Blackshear is moving to Fort Worth, Texas, at the end of this month and enrolling at TCU in June in preparation of playing his final season of college football with the Horned Frogs.
“He reached out on Twitter, and he explained to me how much they needed a player of my caliber and that I could help them right away because they were graduating two guys and they had other guys off the team for other reasons,” Blackshear said. “It stood out to me that the head coach reached out to me, and he told me, ‘This is what we need.’ ”
Blackshear was one of dozens of graduating South Carolina athletes recognized Tuesday at a ceremony outside Colonial Life Arena. The Bluffton native earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies, which will allow him to play immediately at TCU as a graduate transfer.
“Having a degree means everything,” he said. “Where I am from, not many people graduate, not many people get a chance to go to a college like South Carolina, so it means everything to me and everybody back at home. I wanted to make my mom and my dad and my family proud.”
Blackshear was an Under Armour All-American and one of the nation’s most highly regarded high school defensive linemen when he signed with the Gamecocks, but he only started two games in his three seasons. After totaling 38 tackles in 32 career games, he informed South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp that he planned to transfer for his final season.
“I just felt like it was probably time for a change,” he said. “Things weren’t going the way I planned for them to go. Things always work differently when you have a change of scenery. Everything is all love. I’m a home-state kid, and I’m rooting for everyone with the Gamecocks, and it’s all love forever.”
Muschamp did not try to limit the transfer destination in any way, Blackshear said.
“It was hard to tell him that I wanted to leave because this is where I am from,” Blackshear said. “I never planned on wanting to leave, but at this point it’s about a business decision, and I felt like that this was better for me and my family to give myself a chance. My relationship with Coach Muschamp has always been cordial. We respect each other. He supported me 100 percent. He told me if I ever needed anything to give him a call and he wouldn’t hesitate to help me.”
Blackshear’s progress at South Carolina was hampered by a knee injury he suffered in high school and a gunshot wound he suffered as a freshman.
“Everything never goes how it’s supposed to go,” he said. “I had dreams of being three and done, but I ran into some issues that I got myself into, but I grew up and things have been different and I just have been working hard. Things haven’t really been going how I thought they would go so I just wanted to see if a change of location would work for me.”
The Horned Frogs had the 24th-ranked defense in the nation last year, allowing 338 yards per game. Asked what kind of year he expected to have at TCU, Blackshear replied, “I’d rather just show y’all than tell y’all.”