Brandon Shell would be the big man on just about any high school campus, despite losing 20 pounds.
The 6-7, 290-pound offensive tackle at Goose Creek High School is a wanted man on college campuses across the country. Shell, the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Art Shell, is currently listed as the No. 5 offensive tackle prospect in the country by Scout and ranked 10th by Rivals.
Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy says Shell is the best offensive line prospect in the state since Alex Barron played for Spring Valley 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.
"I sent video of Brandon to the Shrine Bowl selection committee, and they couldn't believe it," Reedy said. "One coach said he was the best lineman in the state in the last 20 years."
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."
Shell said he shed 20 pounds since last season to improve his footwork.
"You have to be quicker than the person who lines up across from you," said Shell, who has approximately 50 scholarship offers.
"You have to get off the ball before your opponent does."
Shell plays right tackle for the Gators, allowing him to move outside to lead the way for running backs.
"We played him at left tackle the first few games last year. But for what we do, it's a better fit on the right side," said Reedy, whose team has one of the most prolific running games in the Lowcountry. "I'm sure he'll play left tackle in college. You take your best guy and put him there to protect the quarterback."
The Gators went 10-4 last year and are the preseason favorite to win Region 7-AAAA. They are in the upper half of most state preseason polls.
"My goals are to win the region and win the state championship," Shell said. "It's as simple as that."
Shell won't let the recruiting process be a distraction. The soft-spoken senior is getting guidance from his coach and his family.
"Brandon is a great player," Reedy said. "As good as he is, he's probably a better person. With all the attention he's gotten, he's been unaffected. He's very polite, well-mannered and respected."
Shell says he's narrowed his college choices down to USC and Georgia. Reedy said Clemson and Alabama may not be out of the picture just yet.
"I'll announce on National Signing Day," Shell said. "I'm going to the place where I can be myself. I'm the one who is going to be there for four years, so it has to be my decision."
Reach Philip M. Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 937-5592.