Earlier this month, South Carolina reeled in its second straight top 20 recruiting class nationally.
But the biggest acquisition this offseason for the Gamecocks may have been who they kept.
Offensive line coach/running game coordinator Shawn Elliott was mentioned in connection with the Gators' offensive line job after Frank Verducci suddenly left the Florida staff.
Elliott had just recently been given a raise of more than $100,000 by South Carolina, taking him to $300,000 annually. There was a chance he could have earned even more money at Florida, although Florida coach Will Muschamp said he never offered Elliott the job nor talked to him about the job.
Either way, it's big on several fronts for South Carolina that Elliott is staying put.
For one, he’s done an excellent job with the Gamecocks’ offensive line and given them some stability up front after Steve Spurrier went through offensive line coaches for a period there the way most of us do socks. This past season was the first time since 2008 that South Carolina had gone into a season with the same offensive line coach two years in a row.
Elliott has also been instrumental in South Carolina’s development of the zone read offense and is a big reason the Gamecocks have run the ball so much better over the last two seasons.
“I’ll tell you what. I hired Shawn Elliott two years ago, and I tell people that he’s the winningest coach in South Carolina history,” Spurrier said. “He’s averaging 10 wins a year.
“He’s been very helpful. He’s the run game coordinator and knows that stuff inside and out. He gives me the running plays during the course of the game and makes a lot of suggestions.”
Spurrier said the fourth-and-6 play near the end of the Nebraska game in the Capital One Bowl was Elliott’s idea.
“We’re on the 40 with about three and a half minutes left, and the TV boys are saying that we’re going to punt it down in there,” Spurrier recounted. “But we had a 10-point lead, and there was no sense in giving them the ball if we didn’t have to. So we got in a funny formation and ran a quarterback sweep. Shawn suggested the play. We didn’t even have it in the game plan.
“Connor (Shaw) came out of there and was running down the field and nobody was within 10 yards of him in either direction at one point. It was sort of neat how wide open that thing popped. That put the game away.”
Elliott’s name also came up for the Coastal Carolina head coaching job following this past season. He’s the kind of coach other programs are going to keep coming after. And sooner or later, he’s going to get an offer he can’t refuse.
Still, it’s refreshing to see a guy remain loyal.
Elliott grew up in Camden, S.C., and used to attend games with his father, Charles, who worked games at Williams-Brice Stadium as a state highway patrolman. Before coming to South Carolina in 2010, Elliott had spent his entire coaching career at Appalachian State.
Now that he’s back home in South Carolina, Elliott is clearly a keeper for the Gamecocks.