Beamer officially unveils the first seven members of his staff
New University of South Carolina Head Football Coach Shane Beamer officially unveiled the first seven members of his staff Monday morning to the media, a group which includes four holdovers from Will Muschamp's staff as well as a trio of new faces.
Formally introduced for the first time were Erik Kimrey (tight ends), Will Friend (OL) and Pete Lembo (associate head coach/special teams), along with the announcement of the retention of Mike Bobo (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Des Kitchings (RBs), Tracey Rocker (DL) and Mike Peterson (OLBs). Connor Shaw will also remain on staff in an off-the-field role that is still being developed.
Beamer said that he hopes to fill the final positions on his staff -- the defensive coordinator, cornerbacks coach, wide receivers coach, and the strength and conditioning coach -- very soon, and that all the top candidates for those spots are still very much in play.
"Filling our positions while a season was still under way was a challenge, no question about it," Beamer said, adding that his 7-year-old was wondering why his father hadn't added Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney to the staff yet as well.
Beamer took time to comment on each of the four holdovers and why he had made the call to keep them.
"It's rare to find a proven SEC coordinator with a track record of success like Mike has. They are few and far between. My dad almost hired Mike at VPI - we sent a plane down to Athens to pick him up and he just never got onto it. Even if he had not already been in this building, he probably would have been my first call."
"Even with no spring ball and all the restrictions due to COVID, he did a great job last season, and we're excited to begin to implement some of the cutting-edge schemes we ran at Oklahoma into the run and pass game here at Carolina."
"I ran into Des on the recruiting trail when I was at Georgia. He's a great coach, a great recruiter, and I've just been blown away by him and what he is about. Des is in on the recruiting of virtually every player I have asked about, and he is so well thought of."
"Tracy and I spent a year together at Georgia. He is loyal and demanding, a great technician. He has coached and played at the highest levels. After it was announced that Tracy was returning, I got a text from Sylvester Croom congratulating me on making a great hire and that it was a great decision, so we are thrilled."
"Mike was only one the four that I had never had a working relationship with, and I wanted to talk to him and see the fit for our staff - and it quickly became obvious that we needed to keep him."
"I met with Connor and told him under no circumstances was I letting him leave this building. We are still working through the specifics, but he will be in mostly the same role he was in before, but will be a little more involved with the football and recruiting side of things."
Beamer then broke down the reason behind the hires of each of the three new staff members, and each new staffer introduced themselves to the media and fielded questions via Zoom.
"Ask any coach in America who the best special teams coaches are in the country, and Pete would be the first or second person they mentioned. If I hadn't been able to get Pete, I would probably have just coached them myself and saved the staff position for elsewhere," Beamer said.
Lembo comes to USC from Memphis, which finished an 8-3 season on Dec. 23 with a victory over Florida Atlantic in the Montgomery Bowl.
"This is a special opportunity ... an opportunity to challenge myself in the greatest conference in college football. (Coach Beamer) is is confident, well prepared, and will excel as a head coach, and my family and I are very happy to return to an area that we are very familiar with after my time at Elon," Lembo said.
Lembo said his job will be to build a relationship with every player on the roster, and that if he is doing his job well, each of these players will develop into a better player and make the special teams unit greater than the sum of its parts.
"I've been doing this for 28 years, and I figured out early that the way I could make an impact on every player on the team was through Special Teams. My system is simple, easy to learn, and efficient - I feel like I have gotten a PhD in football these last five years (at Rice and then Memphis)," he said.
When asked about a successful onside kick to start the game in 2011 against Oklahoma when he was the head coach at Ball State, Lembo said such decisions are only made after film study and lengthy preparation process.
"It could be lining up a certain player on their left tackle in punt coverage, or calling a fake. But these only come from a strategic and thoughtful process," he said.
"I moved into Will's old house when I joined the staff at Georgia. Jeremy Pruitt was right across the street and Mike Bobo was right around the corner. In fact, Will was part of the package with Mike Bobo to come to VPI, so I almost got to work with him there," said Beamer. "Mike's best years at Georgia were with Will as his OL coach. I reached out to several former players from Georgia to ask about him as well."
Friend comes to Carolina from the same position at the University of Tennessee.
"Why USC? I know Coach Beamer some, and it was an opportunity to get back to work with Mike (Bobo)," Friend said. "Coach Bobo is one of the best playcallers in the country and I've been with him for 12 years. There's nobody better, and my comfort level with him is high."
"I also remember what it's like to play at Williams-Brice. I remember 2012 (a 35-7 whipping of the Georgia Bulldogs) and frankly I've never experienced anything like it," he said.
Friend said his vision for the offensive line was simple.
"It starts with physicality and leadership," he said.
Friend said the best OL units have players loaded with what he called "the intangibles."
"It's all about toughness and want-to," he said.
"Erik loves Carolina. As for high school coaches who have made the jump to college, he is extraordinarily qualified and is prepared to be successful," said Beamer.
Kimrey, a third-generation Gamecock, said he and his family would have been happy to finish out his career as the high school coach at Hammond and that there was only one place he would have considered to jump into the college game - his alma mater.
"I am beyond grateful for this opportunity," he said, and thanked Brad Scott for convincing him to walk on at Carolina and Lou and Skip Holtz for the tutelage and impact on him as a player and then as a coach.
"Besides my dad, Skip may be the single most influential person on my career," he said.
He also thanked all the state high school football coaches and said he would always be there for them.
"Most of all I want to thank Shane Beamer," he said. "I see in him a man of passion and authenticity. I have never heard a single bad word said of him from anybody. I'm excited about recruiting and getting the work done."
- Kimrey said he expected TE Nick Muse to return next season. "We had a great conversation and I feel confident he will be back. He's a great guy and we need him."
- Beamer said he was looking for a DC who plays multiple scheme types and who would mesh with the rest of the staff from a philosophical standpoint.
- When asked about resisting the urge to clean house and start fresh, Beamer said, "Every situation is different. we had a heck of an OC here already in the building. He is loyal as all getout, and he wanted to be here." Beamer also added that a pair of SEC head coaches texted him to congratulate him on keeping Bobo.