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Shameik Blackshear leaving the Gamecocks December 31, 2018 Defensive end Shameik Blackshear apparently is ending his South Carolina football career despite having one year of eligibility remaining. “I am grateful for my lessons learned as I transition to the next phase of my life and my career,” Blackshear tweeted Monday. Blackshear told The State that he will graduate in May and plans to play at another college next year as a graduate transfer. The Bluffton native finishes his Gamecocks career with 34 tackles and a sack. He played in 13 games this year, mostly as a reserve, but he started two games, including Saturday’s 28-0 loss to Virginia in the Belk Bowl and the regular season finale against Akron. “I would like to express my sincere thanks to the University of South Carolina Football program and coaching staff for affording me the Gamecock experience,” Blackshear wrote on a statement posted on social media. “Also, I would like to express my gratitude for the love and support of Gamecock Nation. In addition, the Gamecock staff was an intricate part of my success as a student athlete. During my college experience at South Carolina, I was afforded great opportunity to grow as a person and develop on and off the field. I will Forever be connected to my teammates and friends that I have made while at South Carolina. I am grateful for my lessons learned as I transition to the next phase of my life and my career. Thank you GAMECOCK NATION!” Blackshear was a four-star prospect with scholarship offers from Clemson, Florida State, Florida and Georgia when he signed with the Gamecocks in 2015. He was rated the No. 12 player in his recruiting class at any position after his sophomore season, but a high school knee injury and injuries suffered at South Carolina when he was shot in December of 2015 slowed his development. The Gamecocks were hopeful before this season began that Blackshear would develop into the player who once was ranked a five-star prospect in high school. “He earned everything,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said in August. “He’s playing well, and he’s working hard. He’s a guy that also can play some different spots on the defensive line. I’m very proud of Shamiek. I really am. We came in, and he had all the stuff going when we first got here, and he cleaned up his life and he’s doing a lot, lot better.” He had a career-best five tackles against Florida this year. The only experienced defensive ends South Carolina will return in 2019 are Danny Fennell, Keir Thomas, D.J. Wonnum, Brad Johnson and Aaron Sterling. Fennell, Wonnum and Sterling all will be returning from surgery.