South Carolina football 2014 preview: Brandon Shell

Big offensive tackle expected to have All-SEC season.

Brandon Shell
RS junior
6'6'' / 334 lbs
Goose Creek, S.C.

Recruitment:
4 stars, 95th nationally, 9th offensive tackle nationally, third in state in the 2011 class

Other offers:
Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Miami, Tennessee

College Career:
Despite being overshadowed in his recruiting class by Jadeveon Clowney, Brandon Shell's commitment came with considerable fanfare (like Clowney, Shell chose Carolina over Alabama). So far, Shell has lived up to his billing.

After redshirting his true freshman year, Shell started 10 games as a RS freshman in 2012, one at left tackle, the rest at right tackle, where he's been since. His work on the year earned him freshman All-SEC honors and even freshman All-American honors from some sources.

In 2013, Shell reprised his role at right tackle, starting all 13 games. After a solid season in which he improved his pass-blocking to complement already strong run-blocking skills (Shell played in a run-heavy offense in high school and has had to develop his pass-blocking), Shell was considered a threat to declare early for the NFL Draft but chose to return for another season.

2014 Outlook:
Projected as second-team All-SEC by Phil Steele, Shell is primed for a big season. He's in excellent shape physically and has seasoned his game while holding down the right tackle spot for almost all of the past two years. With Carolina likely to lean on its run game frequently, Shell will have ample opportunity to do what he does best, and with Dylan Thompson tending towards being a drop-back passer, Shell will also have many chances to show his stuff in conventional pass-blocking situations. While he will have one more year of eligibility after this season, there's definitely a good chance he'll declare for the draft if he has a good year. He's currently considered the seventh-best tackle prospect for the 2016 Draft by NFL Draft Scout and likely wouldn't be considered much worse amongst this year's crop of senior tackles.

Trivia:
Shell's great uncle is NFL legend Art Shell.

Beat writer's terrible double-meaning lede:
"It's not uncommon to see linebackers go into their shells a little bit when big Brandon Shell gets a head of steam and looks to make a block in the second level."

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