Two seasons ago Shakeem Wharton bided his time at Byrnes High. Many in the community said if he'd gone to another school he'd probably start but with 5-star RB Marcus Lattimore still on the roster Wharton didn't get a ton of reps until games were well in hand for the Rebels.
Shakeem shined when he got his opportunities as a sophomore but some people thought that the Rebels would drop a few levels after the graduation of Lattimore, DE Corey Miller, DT Brandon Willis, QB Chas Dodd, and a host of other players who are playing big time college ball now. The doubts and naysayers echoed around the state and on the internet about the Rebels possibly dropping a level or two. Shakeem Wharton and the rest of the Rebels along with their coaches and community would not buy into it.
After dropping their opening game to Hoover (AL) and losing to rivals Gaffney during their 4th game of the season their record stood at 2-2. The chatter continued that the mighty Rebels were on a down swing.
What the Rebels did was continue to improve each and every week winning 5 in a row before falling 21-14 to rivals Dorman who defeated them for the state title during his sophomore season. From there the Rebels regrouped and rallied behind the play of Wharton and company running the table culminating in another AAAA Division 1 state title defeating Dorman. For Wharton it was his most memorable performance of the season.
"The championship game against Dorman was definitely it. I had 160 yards and 3 touchdownss and the thing that made it so memorable was because nobody expected us to even make it there."
Wharton makes no bones about what he feels his biggest strength is when he's on the football field.
"I would have to say getting the first down."
His hard-nosed running style often times willed his team to victory and wore down opponents. Wharton at 5'10 198 pounds has good size and he utilizes it to his advantage punishing opponents. He says he'll continue to work on various aspects of his game this offseason to improve though.
"The biggest thing I would have to say is to build my speed up some more for the break away runs."
Registering a 4.51 second 40 yard dash time Wharton is no slouch in the speed department. He's also posted a strong 4.03 second pro shuttle time that speaks volumes to his ability to change directions. Those measurables were just a testament to his ability on the field as Shakeem rushed for 1,669 yards, had 602 yards receiving, and scored 23 touchdowns for the Rebels as a junior.
Looking ahead though Wharton says his team's goal and his personal goal for next season is one and the same.
"My goal for the team is to win another championship and my personal goals are the same thing as the team's goals."
In regards to recruiting things will obviously pick up soon for Wharton but as of now he says he's heard from South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Nebraska to his point and that all of those schools are showing him heavy interest.
Wharton has already visited South Carolina and says that he really likes the Gamecocks' facilities. There are also some schools that Wharton says he wants to hear more from in the near future.
One thing that we've noticed about Wharton's style of play is that he's similar to the young man that he followed, Marcus Lattimore, in that he's relentless and never takes a play off. It's something that Wharton says he takes great pride in and that college coaches will see in his play and will continue to see more of from him.
"I just try to play every game like its my last."
Considering the numbers he posted this past season and the eyes he's opened expect Wharton to garner more interest and some offers before long as well.
Stay tuned to SCPrepNation.com for more updates concerning Shakeem Wharton and other top prospects in the state of South Carolina so keep it locked right here!
A Closer Look...SHAKEEM WHARTON
Favorite food: Steak or Salmon
Favorite subject in school: English
Favorite actor: Chris Tucker
Favorite music artist: Gucci Mane
Favorite thing to do when not playing football: Hang out with family
Dream date: Meagan Good
What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you? I have been playing tackle football since age 6