Born to play

Brandon Shell is player of the year in The Post and Courier All-Lowcountry Football Team

Sure, Brandon Shell is the big man on campus at 6-7 and 290 pounds. He plays offensive tackle for the Goose Creek Gators and he's a special player, but it's not just because of his size. If you're wondering about Shell's athleticism, wonder no more.

As a sophomore, he was getting letters from some of the top programs around the country: Duke, Oklahoma, LSU, South Carolina and Xavier, to name a few. Duke isn't quite a football power, but the basketball program is, and the Blue Devils were interested in Shell for his ability on the basketball court.

But Shell was born to play football. He has great bloodlines. His great uncle, Art, was one of the greatest linemen in NFL history, playing in eight Pro Bowls and earning an induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

Only time will tell if Brandon Shell will play in eight Pro Bowls. But he has enjoyed a high school career that has earned him All-American status. He's been a four-year starter for the Gators and was picked to play in the Shrine and U.S. Army All-American bowls. He also heads up The Post and Courier All-Lowcountry Football Team and grabs its top honor as player of the year.

"I've been a coach for 36 years and he's a unique player," Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy said. "He has the skill, the athleticism and the character. He's such a nice young man."

Shell has committed to play for the South Carolina Gamecocks and will sign in February. Reedy said the only thing Shell needs to improve is his strength.

"He's strong, but not strong enough," Reedy said. "His athletic ability is going to be superior to most players he's competing against. All he needs is to get stronger."

Shell committed to South Carolina in early November. Most recruiting experts predicted Shell would stay close to home, and they were right.

"I was ready to make a decision, and once I was ready, I didn't want to put it off any longer," Shell said after committing to South Carolina. "South Carolina is a place I fit in. It's like family. I get along with all the players and coaches."

Reedy says Shell is the best offensive line prospect in the state since Alex Barron played for Orangeburg-Wilkinson in the 1990s. Barron went on to earn All-America honors at Florida State and was the first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2005.

What makes Shell so special is his quick feet.

"That's what separates him," Reedy said. "Of course, you can have a big lineman, but he's a big lineman with the footwork of a skill player. Sure, playing basketball helps, but his footwork is something he's born with."

Reedy, who led the Gators to a 13-1 record and a second straight appearance in the Division II-AAAA state semifinal, is the coach of the year.

Shell, who was a four-year starter and two-time all-state selection, is one of five Gators on the first team. The others are 260-pound fullback Virgil Smalls, offensive lineman Matt Steffenson and linebackers Trevon Bennett and Reamond Robinson. Smalls, Steffenson, Bennett and Robinson are juniors.

Shell is one of three players who repeats as a first-team pick. The others are Summerville running back De'angleo Henderson and Berkeley defensive lineman Jamichael Beckford.

Henderson had a brilliant career at Summerville, cracking the starting lineup as a sophomore. Henderson rushed for 2,346 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Green Wave this season. Henderson, who played in the Shrine Bowl, finished his career with 4,652 yards and 54 touchdowns rushing.

Beckford played both offense and defensive line and excelled on both sides of the ball. He helped the Stags win the Class Division II-AAAA state championship last year, recording 73 tackles and four sacks. He followed that up with 89 tackles with 11 sacks, while forcing three fumbles.

Shell is one of three players on the All-Lowcountry team who were finalists for the state's Mr. Football award. The others are Summerville's Henderson and James Island's Bo Patterson. Patterson played quarterback this fall but is projected to play wide receiver at the next level.

Patterson made the first team as a defensive back. He has the ability to play any skill position on the field. He had an outstanding career, tallying 6,391 total yards and 43 touchdowns.

Woodland's Robert Smith is another quarterback who made the team as a defensive back. Smith amassed 8,268 passing yards and 3,112 rushing yards while accounting for 123 touchdowns. Most observers feel he will play in the secondary during his college career at Clemson.

Goose Creek led the way with five first-team selections. Summerville had four: Henderson, wide receiver Chris Williams, defensive lineman John Higgins and defensive back Matt White. White is a junior and led the state with 11 interceptions.

Wando had three first-team picks: tight end Alex Glover, defensive lineman Gimel President and linebacker Christian Rathbone.

Note

The All-Lowcountry football team, player of the year and coach of the year are selected by The Post and Courier from schools in Regions 8-AAAA, 7-AAAA, 8-AAA, 6-AA, 7-AA, 6-A and local independent schools based on all-region and all-star teams selected by coaches.

All-Lowcountry Football First Team

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Derek Coblentz, Hanahan

Running backs

De’angelo Henderson, Summerville

Virgil Smalls, Goose Creek

Wide receivers

Stanton Seckinger, Porter-Gaud

Chris Williams, Summerville

Tight end

Alex Glover, Wando

Linemen

Brandon Shell, Goose Creek

Jairon Harrison, James Island

Ricky Pringle, Woodland

Bryce Morgan, Timberland

Matt Steffensen, Goose Creek

Kicker

Drew Costa, Bishop England

DEFENSE

Linemen

John Higgins, Summerville

Gimel President, Wando

Brett Borders, Stratford

Jamichael Beckford, Berkeley

Linebackers

Christian Rathbone, Wando

Trevon Bennett, Goose Creek

Raemond Robinson, Goose Creek

Backs

Matt White, Summerville

Byron Mayes, Timberland

Robert Smith, Woodland

Bo Patterson, James Island

Punter

Seth Graham, Northwood Academy

Reach Philip M. Bowman at 937-5592.