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‘He cleaned up his life.’ Now USC is ready for Shameik Blackshear to break out

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‘He cleaned up his life.’ Now USC is ready for Shameik Blackshear to break out

August 06, 2018

South Carolina’s football team is making a change in its defensive front.

And it will need Shameik Blackshear to help make it happen.

The junior from Bluffton came to Columbia with a lot of hype, and has had a tumultuous journey across three years to say the least. Now, his coach wants something from him.

“We need him to contribute for us on the defensive line,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “For us to be able to play Keir Thomas both inside and outside, Shameik is a guy that’s got to develop for us to play defensive end for us. I think he has made good strides for us and needs to continue to.”

Early on in camp, he was the No. 2 defensive end behind Aaron Sterling, and appeared to be getting a little work inside at one point. If he and Sterling can take the lion’s share of the reps there, it allows Thomas, primarily an end last season, to spend more time at tackle.

South Carolina defensive lineman Shameik Blackshear participates in a drill during the Gamecocks’ first practice on August 3, 2018, in Columbia, S.C.

Blackshear’s odyssey has been well-documented. He played two games as a true freshman, but got a medical redshirt (there was also a tweet that caused a small stir). In December of that year, he was injured in a shooting.

He missed spring but came back to play in nine games. He had a small role in 2017, playing in seven of the final eight games and making six tackles.

At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he was once a four-star recruit, five-star as a junior before an injury. He has a ways to go before he can lock in a rotation spot for 2018, but at the moment, coaches have said the right things about him.

“He earned everything,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. “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.”

THE STATE

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