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New assistant football coaches look to elevate program mentality ahead of 2024 season

<p>FILE — Head coach Shane Beamer speaks to members of the media at the Long Family Football Operations Center on Nov. 14, 2023. Beamer recently hired wide receivers coach Mike Furrey and run game coordinator and tight ends coach Shawn Elliott to the Gamecocks' football staff for the upcoming season.</p>
FILE — Head coach Shane Beamer speaks to members of the media at the Long Family Football Operations Center on Nov. 14, 2023. Beamer recently hired wide receivers coach Mike Furrey and run game coordinator and tight ends coach Shawn Elliott to the Gamecocks' football staff for the upcoming season.

Թϱ football head coach Shane Beamer has been amid a coaching carousel after an underwhelming 2023 season.

The Gamecocks football team has made five coaching changes to its staff in the offseason, bringing in many new and old faces to the program. But Beamer ultimately still has his eyes set on achieving his goal of winning a championship at Թϱ.

“When I was hired in December 2020, that was my goal — is to bring a championship to Columbia, Թϱ,” Beamer said. “And absolutely nothing has changed, and I want to do that for our players, I want to do that for our coaches, I want to do that for our amazing fans, the greatest fans in America because there’s no reason why we can’t.” 

Two such hires from this offseason include wide receivers coach Mike Furrey and tight ends coach Shawn Elliott. Elliott formerly served as the Gamecocks' run game coordinator.

Furrey and Elliott are looking to instill a winning mentality into the team from two offensive positions that contributed to the Gamecocks' going 5-7 in the 2023 season.

Թϱ hired Furrey on Feb. 29 after James Coley, whom Beamer had hired to be the team's wide receivers coach earlier in the offseason, departed the program. Coley left to become Georgia’s wide receivers coach just over a month after he was hired.

But Coley's departure may have come to Թϱ's benefit, Beamer said. He believes Furrey was the better candidate for the position.

“(I) didn’t think we’d be here again introducing a wide receivers coach, but it is what it is. The previous receivers coach made a decision that he felt was best for his family,” Beamer said. "And then it allowed us to go out and hire an even better wide receivers coach in mind, and that’s not a knock on anybody, but that’s what I feel about (Furrey).”

Furrey served as head coach at Limestone, a Division II program in Gaffney, Թϱ, for the past two seasons. There he led the team to back-to-back 8-4 seasons and became Limestone's all-time winningest coach (20-25). This was Furrey's second stint at Limestone as he previously worked for them in 2016 and 2017.

Furrey said his experience as a head coach will make him better as an assistant coach.

“You just kind of have an idea of what you want your assistants to do, right? Take some burden off you, do your job, keep your office clean, look good, be presentable, get your players ready, get them to study," Furrey said.

Furrey brings several years of pro-level experience to Թϱ's wide receivers room.

He played in the NFL for seven seasons, where he made appearances on both sides of the ball. In 2006, Furrey led the NFC in receptions with 98 while playing for the Detroit Lions. A season prior to his breakout at receiver, Furrey played as a safety for the St. Louis Rams.

He said his focus is to find a method that will help improve Թϱ's wide receivers and help them maximize their potential, mainly through making sure every player is putting in the most out of every snap, whether that be during walkthroughs, practice or game days.

“I think when you go out there, and you watch us run around, it’s not going to be shy of effort,” Furrey said. “It’s not going to be shy of exhausting ourselves for a better purpose, and that’s our team. And we’ll practice like that, we’ll play like that, we’ll run routes like that. There will always be a purpose, but it’s going to be at a maximum effort that’s going to be behind that.”

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Elliott, another major coaching hire this past offseason, is far from a stranger to the Gamecock football program.

Elliott served on the team's coaching staff for seven seasons from 2010 and 2016 and played an instrumental role in some of Թϱ’s most successful seasons

Elliott was originally brought on as an offensive line coach and running game coordinator in 2010 and became co-offensive coordinator in 2012, a position he held through the rest of his tenure, with a brief stint as interim head coach in 2015 when Steve Spurrier resigned mid-season. He was a part of the Gamecocks' best offensive season, where it averaged 34.1 points and 452.3 yards of offense per game in 2013. 

“When I was looking at this position, it was something (like), ‘How can we be better? Who makes us better?’ And there’s no question that Shawn Elliott makes us better,” Beamer said in Elliott's introductory press conference.

Elliott became head coach at Georgia State following his tenure with the Gamecocks. He built Georgia State’s program on the success of the running game, and his teams have averaged 214 rushing yards per game over the past five seasons.

Elliott earned Georgia State's first winning season as a recognized Football Bowl Subdivision team, as well as notable victories over Tennessee in 2019 and No. 21 Coastal Carolina in 2021. He also accumulated four bowl victories in five trips with Georgia State.

His decision to rejoin Թϱ boiled down to home and family, Elliot said.

“When this position became available, I targeted it,” Elliott said. “I reached out and wanted them to know that this was something that I wanted to do. For many reasons, but ultimately, I think for my family. The most important people in my life live here in the state of Թϱ.”

Elliott and Beamer said they are hoping to lead Թϱ to the top of the SEC, win championships and elevate the program to another level of success.

"I'm looking forward to making an impact here on the University of Թϱ," Elliott said. "Their players, their coaches, everyone involved. I know I have the passion, and I'm here to inspire, motivate and do everything I can to put this program right where it needs to be, and that's at the top of the SEC and the country." 

Elliott hopes to improve a Թϱ run game that finished the 2023 season with just over 1,000 rushing yards. Former running back Mario Anderson, who had 707 yards last year, led the unit, but transferred in the offseason.  One of Anderson's replacements is junior running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders, who transferred from Arkansas.

Furrey and Elliott rounded out a busy offseason of coaching hires for Թϱ. Despite all the offseason turnover that transpired, Beamer said the team has already improved from where it was at the end of the 2023 season.

“(I) couldn’t be more excited about the staff that we've put together,” Beamer said. “And there’s no question that since the end of the season, we’re better, as a team and as a program.” 


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