Bluffton High football coach Ken Cribb gears up for season with star defensive end Shameik Blackshear

ccox@islandpacket.comAugust 11, 2013 

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Bluffton High School football coach Ken Cribb is shown here giving a post-game speech after the Bobcats beat Hartsville Nov. 11 in Bluffton.

SARAH WELLIVER

For 25 years, Bluffton High coach Ken Cribb has stalked the sidelines of South Carolina football fields. And in none of those 25 years has the Bobcats' head man ever seen a player quite like his star defensive end, Shameik Blackshear.

The rising junior has earned offers from college football powers like Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He has received a five-star rating by 247sports -- a national recruiting service -- and an invitation to an All-American game he won't play in for another two years.

And he's already made waves in his home state, making a verbal commitment to the South Carolina Gamecocks in May.

"I hear that even though he's committed, all these other (coaches) are going to find every angle they can to get in the door and try to change his mind," Cribb said. "I don't know, it's all new to me. I've never had any (player) this high-profile."

Cribb welcomes the attention, though. Blackshear's recruitment has opened doors for others in Bluffton High, and Cribb is expecting a crop of players from the senior class to earn college offers once coaches make their way to the Lowcountry to scout the defensive end on Friday nights.

"It's awesome," Cribb said. "Kids get discovered all the time when coaches come in and say, 'Who is this kid?' That happens a lot."

"When the other kids see those coaches walk down the hall to talk with Shameik," athletics director Dave Adams said, "that just gets their confidence up like, 'Oh, if I work hard and I do this, maybe in a year or two I can do the same thing.' It's a big encouragement for the other kids to actually see this happen."

In the meantime, Blackshear will continue to get his name and that of the Bluffton High program out to other national outlets. 247sports.com, a partnership with CBS Sports, has covered the defensive end's recruitment as well as Rivals.com, which is owned by Yahoo! Sports.

In January 2015, Blackshear will take the field at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which pits the top incoming college football players the country has to offer against each other. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC.

"Shameik has caught national attention now," Cribb said. "Because he's on every college recruiting website. Even though he's committed to South Carolina he gets all kinds of coverage nationally."

He's getting it within the state, too, thanks to the help of his teammates. Bluffton has a Class 3-A runner-up, an appearance in the Lower State final and a trip to the Class 4-A final four to its credit over the last three seasons.

"We're excited about where our program's come in the last three years, the attention and everything the school and program get statewide," Cribb said. "We've had a ton of kids in the North-South and Shrine bowls in our three years here, which has been really awesome.

"It just gets better and better. We have a lot of kids now going to play in college and we have a lot of recruiting going on with a lot of our kids now. It's brought attention program-wide."

Adams saw that statewide attention at a recent meeting in the Upstate, hours away from the field at Bobcat Stadium field where Blackshear makes his talents known.

"I just got back from the coaches conference in Greenville," Adams said. "It's amazing how many people are asking about this kid. The recognition around the state, everybody's got their eyes on him."

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