Kameron Durant, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound offensive lineman from Summerville, SC, sent out emails last February to 100 college football coaches in an effort to generate recruiting interest. Only one coach responded — East Carolina offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler.
Shankweiler, who has more than 40 years of coaching experience at the college level, was acquainted with Durant’s offensive line coach at Cane Bay High School, former Penn State and NFL offensive lineman Jeff Bleamer.
“That (friendship with Bleamer) and knowing he was the only coach who responded, that kind of meant a lot to me,” Durant said. “He (Shankweiler) then came to my spring game in March and talked to me and my dad for like 40 minutes. He just reminded me of my offensive line coach a lot.”
ECU defensive tackles coach Roy Tesh made a return visit to Cane Bay to visit with Durant and deliver an invitation to the Pirates’ football camp in early June. Two days after Tesh’s visit, Durant received a scholarship offer from ECU during a phone call with head coach Mike Houston. The decision to accept Houston’s offer was an easy one for Durant, who made a verbal commitment to ECU on June 21 over offers from Elon, N.C. A&T and Presbyterian.
Durant became one of 12 high school football prospects to make verbal commitments to the Pirates between June 18 and July 2.
“Since around March I had always thought about going to ECU,” Durant said. “But when they offered me, I didn’t really want to go through anymore of the recruiting process or go to any more camps. Once I saw the campus and met the coaches, I was like, ‘OK, I’m definitely going to commit here.’ Now I can just have some fun.”
Durant has been an under-the-radar prospect at Cane Bay, which is located about 28 miles Northwest of Charleston, SC. He joined the Cane Bay program as a freshman, competing for the junior varsity before earning a starting job at offensive tackle as a sophomore in Cane Bay’s triple-option offense.
Moving inside to guard as a junior, Durant was a key contributor as the Cobras compiled a 9-3 record. Durant’s efforts earned him second-team All-Low Country honors from the Charleston Post & Courier.
“He kind of showed up as a ninth grader on JV,” Cane Bay coach Russell Zehr said. “We could see he could be one who could help us. We thought pretty early he could be special. But you know how recruiting is. If you’re not 6-4, they (college recruiters) ain’t looking at you. But he finally grew into the size to get people’s attention. He’s got the footwork, he’s got the attitude and most importantly he’s got the grades to be in a position where he can go to somewhere like East Carolina.”
Zehr compares Durant’s development to another former Cane Bay offensive lineman, David Bryant. Bryant was a massive 6-7, 336-pounder who played two seasons for the Cobras (2012-213), but was lightly recruited. He wound up signing with Football Championship Subdivision Bethune-Cookman where he became a two-year starter for the Wildcats.
“He (Bryant) really didn’t do a whole lot until his senior year,” Zehr said. “It just took him a while to grow into it. He wasn’t highly recruited, but he was a really good high school football player and ended up having a great career at Bethune-Cookman.
“Kameron reminds me a lot of him just because we’d run the counter with him (Bryant) and he’d be 20 yards down the field blocking a safety. That’s the kind of kid Kameron is. He can get off the ball. He can move people around, but he can also run.”
According to Durant, East Carolina has recruited him to play the center position. To help prepare Durant for the next level, Zehr has set forth some goals as he prepares for the 2022 season at Cane Bay.
“To me, No. 1, I feel he would be a better player if he lost some weight,” Zehr said. “We’d like to see him get down to 290 so he can move a little better. He also needs to be a leader on our offense. He needs to make sure things are going right out there. And he needs to be a next-level blocker. He needs to be that guy who destroys the guy in front of him, then goes and finds somebody else. That’s what turns big plays into touchdowns.”
Durant is the second offensive lineman to join ECU’s recruiting class of 2023, following Bryce Weaver from Greenville’s D.H. Conley High School. He is the second prospect from South Carolina to commit to the class along with Columbia, S.C., wide receiver Zion Agnew.