Shane Beamer left South Carolina with one final gift.
The country's top-ranked recruit, Jadeveon Clowney, completed USC's 2011 recruiting class on Monday and Beamer had built another highly-ranked group. Although Beamer didn't handle Clowney's recruitment individually - Ellis Johnson and Lorenzo Ward were in charge of him - he received the credit for the class as a whole, due to his title as recruiting coordinator.
The Gamecocks' class was ranked No. 10 by MaxPreps, No. 15 by ESPN and No. 18 by Rivals.com.
Almost as soon as Clowney's signed letter-of-intent was received, Beamer's future was announced - he is leaving USC to join the Virginia Tech staff as running backs coach. The move allows him to return to his alma mater and take an offensive position under his father, Frank Beamer.
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to return to Virginia Tech," Beamer said in a statement to Virginia Tech's official athletics website. "I've been gone 11 years and during that time I've been around a number of great coaches and great programs and had the opportunity to learn a lot. Now, I look forward to returning to Blacksburg and helping Virginia Tech continue to win championships."
Beamer had earlier turned down a nibble of interest from Mississippi State, preferring to wait for an offensive position if he left USC at all. One came when Virginia Tech bumped 33-year running backs coach Billy Hite to an administrative position and Beamer felt he couldn't turn down the chance to coach under his dad.
"Shane's going to go work for his dad," coach Steve Spurrier said. "I think it's a wonderful move for Shane, getting to coach with his dad. His dad will probably coach three or four years, he told me, and the opportunity to coach with him may never came up, and it came up. So we wish Shane well."
Beamer is a Charleston native and started for three years as the Hokies' long snapper. He worked at Georgia Tech in 2000 as a graduate assistant, then moved on to Tennessee for three years. A stint at Mississippi State lasted from 2004-06, then Beamer came to USC.
His first season was spent as the outside linebackers/co-special teams coordinator before he switched to cornerbacks in 2008. He took over recruiting in 2009 while also handling spurs, strong safeties and special teams.
Citing a need to lessen Beamer's workload, Spurrier removed spurs and strong safeties from Beamer's duties a month ago. Concentrating on recruiting, where Beamer was very proficient, and improving USC's special teams, particularly the return game, seemed to be the best bet.
"I really believe we've got to get more of our first-team players on special teams," Spurrier said then. "We can't let the other team punt on their own 5-yard-line and we start on our own 27."
The loss leaves the Gamecocks with a hole in their staff, one that Spurrier said he has some time in which to consider the replacement. Spurrier said on Monday that USC will seek to hire the best special teams coach it can find, and probably bestow the recruiting coordinator title on someone already on staff. "We'll probably give that title to one of our current coaches, who's been here a while and knows the state," Spurrier said.
Beamer did a fine job with recruiting, reeling in the nation's No. 12 class in 2009 and helping sign top-10 recruit Marcus Lattimore a year ago. Spurrier mentioned Director of High School Relations Robbie Liles as being instrumental in helping recruit - Liles was in charge of 37 official visits, with 33 of those players eventually signing with USC - but Liles is not a coach.
Jay Graham helped land Lattimore and is a North Carolina native; Brad Lawing has been at USC for a combined 15 years and says he has been to probably every high school in South Carolina; and G.A. Mangus helped reel in three coveted recruits from New Jersey. All could be in the mix for the recruiting tag.
As for special teams, Spurrier will be looking for his third coordinator in four years. Ray Rychleski left for an NFL position after his only season at USC, in 2008; Beamer had control the next two years.
"I think we're looking for the best special teams guy with the best track record we can find," Spurrier said. "That's what I'm looking for right there."
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