On May 21st, South Carolina landed a top recruit from the 2015 class in defensive end Shameik Blackshear, who is heavily regarded as the No. 1 defensive end recruit of his class.
Blackshear is an explosive defensive player with huge potential. He also possesses the natural ability to become an instant impact player, especially in the post-Jadeveon Clowney era.
Blackshear's commitment means a whole lot more than landing a top player, though.
South Carolina was suspected as a contender to haul in Blackshear, yet his decision to commit this early to the Gamecocks did come as a slight surprise.
Blackshear told Chad Simmons of Scout.com, "South Carolina really wants me and no other school checks on me the way they do. I believe I can be the face of the program early and that is what I want. Columbia is like a second home for me and it is a good fit for me."
With his early commitment, Blackshear immediately enters into the picture to become the successor to the nation's best player, Clowney.
Clowney was the No. 1 recruit in the country in his class, and has been an electrifying defensive player who still has his junior year ahead of him. Blackshear has expressed his desire to follow in Clowney's footsteps and make his mark as a future Gamecocks' great.
Blackshear told Chad Simmons of Scout.com, "I like the coaches and the defensive scheme at South Carolina. Jadeveon Clowney is a special player and the coaches have told me that I could be next for them. Clowney being that top guy helps me with them because I want to be that No. 1 draft pick one day too. I love their overall defense."
The recruitment of Blackshear also shows how big of an impact Clowney has had on the South Carolina football program off the field. Players like Blackshear want to be the next Clowney and in expressing so, it shows how much determination Blackshear has to be the best.
Blackshear's commitment goes far beyond the potential to become the next Clowney to don the garnet and black. South Carolina also prevented Blackshear from ending up at any number of other SEC schools and top programs who were in the running to land 2015's top defensive end.
Blackshear was recruited by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, North Carolina, Florida State and Louisville, all strong football programs.
Drawing him away from schools like these is important to the Gamecocks' program as it asserts them as a recruiting power as well as giving them a great defensive weapon for SEC competition.
The Gamecocks also took Blackshear from potentially ending up with Clemson, an in-state recruiting rival.
Blackshear's commitment to South Carolina solidifies the Gamecocks dominance under head coach Steve Spurrier as the in-state recruiting power. Players like Clowney, Marcus Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore and others were in-state products who thrived at South Carolina, so now recruits are following suit.
Spurrier's in-state recruiting has been solid over the years, and South Carolina is looking to continue to have the upper hand on Clemson.
On top of having the lead on in-state recruiting, Blackshear could produce a domino effect of landing other highly ranked recruits from the 2015 class.
Blackshear's commitment is another huge moment for South Carolina's football program since he could be the next Clowney.
It also shows that the Gamecocks are a recruiting power that is continually winning in-state recruits from Clemson and other SEC schools.