New USC football coach Shane Beamer announced seven members of his on the field coaching staff Sunday afternoon. Four don’t have to pack. They are already in Columbia. Beamer is retaining Mike Bobo and Des Kitchings on the offense, and Mike Peterson and Tracy Rocker on the defense. Newcomers will be offensive line coach Will Friend, tight ends coach Erik Kimrey and special teams coach and associate head coach Pete Lembo. Beamer still needs to hire a defensive coordinator plus coaches for receivers, inside linebackers and the secondary. Also, staff member Connor Shaw will be back in a still to be determined roll.
Here’s the full release from USC
University of South Carolina head football coach Shane Beamer has named seven assistants who will be part of his initial coaching staff in 2021, pending approval of the UofSC Board of Trustees, which holds its next scheduled meeting on Jan. 4, 2021.
Four coaches – offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo, running backs coach Des Kitchings, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and outside linebackers coach Mike Peterson – will be retained from the Gamecocks’ 2020 staff. In addition, Connor Shaw will return in a to-be-determined, off-the-field role within the football program.
Joining the Carolina staff for the first time in 2021 are Will Friend, who was named the offensive line coach, former Gamecock quarterback Erik Kimrey, who will serve as the tight ends coach, and Pete Lembo, who will be the Gamecocks’ associate head coach/special teams coordinator.
“I am excited about the quality of coaches that this staff has,” said Coach Beamer. “I am looking for coaches who teach and connect with our players, who have boundless energy to recruit young men to our outstanding University and program, and who do it the right way.
“One of the first things I did when I was hired was visit with the coaching staff already in place from the 2020 season,” continued Coach Beamer. “After much thought and many conversations with the players on our team, I knew that Coach Bobo, Coach Kitchings, Coach Peterson and Coach Rocker would be excellent additions to this new staff and needed to stay here in Columbia. All four have had great coaching careers and have a knowledge of what it takes to compete in the Southeastern Conference. I would also like to thank Coach Bobo for taking the reigns as the interim head coach late this season. He did an outstanding job leading the team on and off the field.”
“I am also excited to have Connor (Shaw) remain on our staff in a more expanded role on the football side of the things,” added Coach Beamer. “He loves this school and this program. Connor is committed to helping our players succeed and reach their full potential.”
Friend has extensive experience working in both the SEC and with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. The Philadelphia, Miss. native has spent the past three seasons as the offensive line coach at the University of Tennessee where he mentored Trey Smith, who was named to the All-SEC first team unit in both 2019 and 2020. In 2019, UT offensive linemen Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright were both selected to the Freshman All-SEC squad, while Morris was tabbed a Freshman All-American.
Friend came to Rocky Top after a three-year stint (2015-17) as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Colorado State University where he worked with Coach Bobo. In 2017, he led an offense that ranked 11th in the nation in total offense at 492.5-yards per game. Friend and Bobo also worked together at the University of Georgia from 2011-14. Friend served as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach in 2011, then added the title of running game coordinator in 2013. During his final season in Athens in 2014, Friend helped guide a Bulldogs’ offense that averaged 41.3 points per game, which ranked eighth nationally, and racked up 457.8 yards of total offense per game.
“Will has had a history of developing excellent offensive linemen during his coaching career,” noted Coach Beamer. “He knows what it takes to compete in the SEC and brings a drive and energy that we want on our staff.”
A four-year starting guard at Alabama, a two-time All-SEC selection, and a member of Alabama’s Team of the Decade for the 1990s, Friend began his coaching career at West Alabama in 2001. He was an offensive assistant at Tuscaloosa Central High School in 2002, before joining the Georgia staff as a graduate assistant (2003-04). He spent the 2005-06 seasons as the offensive line coach at Gardner-Webb, then had a four-year stint (2007-10) as the offensive line coach at UAB. Overall, Friend has coached nine offensive linemen who have been selected in the NFL Draft.
A 1998 graduate from the University of Alabama, Friend and his wife, Carrie, have three children – Katie, Brooks and Charlie.
Kimrey, a highly-successful high school coach, returns to his alma mater for his first stint as a collegiate coach. He has spent the past 17 seasons as the head coach at Hammond School in Columbia, where he guided the SkyHawks to 12 SCISA state titles, more than any coach in South Carolina history, while compiling an overall record of 194-20. He was the youngest and fastest coach to reach 100 victories in South Carolina history and the only coach to have won six-consecutive state championships. Among the players who played for Kimrey at Hammond include current Gamecocks Jordan Burch, Alex Huntley, Bradley Dunn and Fabian Goodman. He taught Philosophy of Religion and physical education at Hammond.
“Erik is a Gamecock,” said Coach Beamer. “He is the kind of person and coach who I want on our staff. Not only does he have an astute offensive football mind, he connects well with his players and cares about their progress in every phase of their life. It’s extremely important to have former players on this staff and around this football program. We’re not done yet.”
Kimrey graduated from Dutch Fork High School in Columbia where he played quarterback for his father, Bill Kimrey, who was a head high school coach in South Carolina for 34 years. He set five state passing records as a senior and was the state’s Offensive Player of the Year. Kimrey was a backup quarterback and three-time letterwinner at South Carolina from 1998-2002. He is best remembered for coming off the bench to replace an injured Phil Petty and completing a fourth-down fade route pass to Jermale Kelly to lift the Gamecocks to an upset win over Mississippi State during the 2000 season.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Kimrey spent two years as an offensive graduate assistant on Lou Holtz’s staff at South Carolina, coaching tight ends and studying offensive line and tight end play under Coach Dave DeGuglielmo.
Kimrey is a third generation Gamecock. His grandmother, father, mother, brothers and wife all attended the University of South Carolina. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica Russell and they have three children – Kaitlyn Dean, Karis and Ty.
Lembo comes to Carolina after two seasons as the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator at Memphis. Nominated for the Broyles Award, the 2019 Tigers special teams ranked in the top-10 in six NCAA/FBS statistical categories: kick-return yards (2nd), kick-return TD (2nd), blocked kicks (6th), blocked punts (6th), kickoff touchbacks (6th) and kick returns (9th). He also was one of three finalists for FootballScoop.com’s Special Teams Coordinator of the Year honor.
“Pete brings a tremendous amount of experience to our staff, has coached on many levels and has been a head coach,” noted Coach Beamer. “His football IQ is outstanding, especially in special teams. He was a successful head coach and as a special teams coordinator, his units contributed greatly to the team’s overall success.”
Before arriving in the Bluff City, Lembo’s special teams were ranked among the nation’s best at Rice (2018) and Maryland (2016-17). At Maryland, he also served as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach.
His 2018 Rice special teams ranked fifth in the FBS with just 16.12 kickoff return yards allowed and 15th with 24.41 kickoff return yards per game. As a unit, Rice’s special teams ranked 17th in the country in the ESPN Team Efficiency Rankings (60.8 percent), after coming in at 114th the season before Lembo’s arrival.
In his time at Maryland, Lembo’s special teams ranked as some of the best in the country. In two seasons the Terps tied for fifth nationally with nine blocked kicks.
Lembo spent five seasons as the head coach at Ball State (2011-15). During his tenure, the Cardinals set more than 60 school records, including season marks for points (501), total offense (6,199 yards), passing yards (4,214), TD passes (35) and total TD (64) in 2013.
His Ball State special teams also ranked among the top of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in each of his five seasons. Kicker Steve Schott was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, and punter Scott Kovanda was a 2012 Ray Guy Award finalist. In 2014, kicker Scott Secor was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year.
In five seasons, Lembo posted a mark of 33-29, improving his career coaching mark to 112-65 in 15 seasons. He was the first head coach in Ball State history to win at least 30 games in his first four seasons. Lembo guided the Cardinals to a 9-4 record and an appearance in the 2012 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl and a 10-3 mark and a 2013 GoDaddy Bowl appearance. It was just the second time in the Cardinals’ 91-year history the program went to bowl games in consecutive seasons.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Albany (1992-93), and then spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Dartmouth (1994-96) and a season at Hampden-Sydney (1997) before joining the staff at Lehigh in 1998. There, Lembo started as an assistant coach before being named the head coach in 2001. In five seasons at the helm, he posted a 44-14 mark, leading Lehigh to the 2001 and 2004 Patriot League crowns and FCS playoff berths. His .759 overall winning percentage and .778 league winning percentage are the second-highest in Patriot League history. He was named the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year and Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2001 when his team finished 11-1 and ranked fifth in both NCAA Division I-AA polls.
In 2006, Lembo took over the Elon program. Over the next five years, Lembo led the Phoenix to 35 wins, more than doubling their win total from the previous five years (14). Lembo’s Elon teams broke 124 NCAA, Southern Conference (SoCon) and school records and sported a 24-14 record in SoCon play. He was named the SoCon Coach of the Year in 2007.
Lembo, a 1992 graduate of Georgetown University, was a four-year starter on the Hoyas’ offensive line and served as team captain in 1991. A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Lembo is married to the former Jenifer Kochis. The couple has three children: Sophia, A.J. and Victoria.
2021 SOUTH CAROLINA COACHING STAFF (As of Dec. 27, 2020)
Shane Beamer, Head Coach
Mike Bobo, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Will Friend, Offensive Line
Erik Kimrey, Tight Ends
Des Kitchings, Running Backs
Pete Lembo, Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
Mike Peterson, Outside Linebackers
Tracy Rocker, Defensive Line