When South Carolina's football staff nabbed a verbal commitment from Bluffton (S.C.) 2015 DE Shameik Blackshear, it was not the fact that he chose his longtime leader that was a revelation. The timing, over a year and half until signing day 2015, was the part that caught many by surprise.
"I chose them early because out of all the coaches I spoke with I felt the most comfort with the Carolina staff," Blackshear told GamecockCentral.com. "I chose so early because I know where I want to be after high school and it takes a lot of pressure and stress off my shoulders."
Gamecock assistant coach Everette Sands handled Blackshear's recruitment for USC, with an assist from defensive line coach Deke Adams. After the commitment, both gave some advice to the Lowcountry product.
"They were just telling me to finish off high school strong as ever as far as grades and hard work, and really hard training for the season. Keep my head on straight, don't get caught up in the hype, stay out of trouble and I'll have no worries."
The 6-foot-4, 232-pounder went into more detail about why South Carolina was the pick for him.
"The school campus is set up interestingly; it's all over the city," he said. "Grades are important to them or any school for that matter but they can make sure you graduate with your degree. As far as football, I like the family bond the team has and the hunger and desire to be at the top."
Blackshear, who will be in Columbia for a visit this weekend, is still planning on listening to a few more programs along the way.
"Yes, I'm still looking into Florida, Clemson, Alabama, and Florida State," he said.
With a potential high-four or even five-star ranking headed his way from Rivals.com in the 2015 class, the expectations for Blackshear's junior campaign will be big. He says that any pressure to perform is not a concern to him.
"I'm not worried about what anybody else is expecting of me," he said. "I'm just going to play my game like I have been in the years that have passed. My goals for myself this season are very high and I plan on surpassing them."
PREMIUM CONTENT YOU CAN ACCESS WITH YOUR SUBSCRIPTION TO GAMECOCKCENTRAL.COM: