South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott has been a company man throughout his career. He coached at his alma mater, Appalachian State, for well over a decade and then spent seven years in Columbia under two head coaches.
And now the man who steered the ship for a half season after Steve Spurrier's abrupt resignation is moving on.
Reports surfaced Thursday afternoon, led by USA Today and 247Sports, that Elliott will take the open head coach job at Georgia State. Later in the day, South Carolina associate AD Charles Bloom tweeted congratulations to Elliott, all but confirming the news. Elliott is being hired by athletic director Charlie Cobb, who spent nine years at Appalachian State and had Elliott as a candidate to replace legend Jerry Moore in 2012 before Elliott pulled his name from consideration.
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Elliott grew up in Camden and played his last high-school game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Labeling the Gamecocks as the team he always wanted to be a part of, he was hired by Steve Spurrier in January 2010 to replace Eric Wolford.
Elliott's first five lines were pretty effective in terms of run blocking and had to block for offenses that asked a lot from the group in pass protection (Spurrier liked deep drops and Connor Shaw liked to hold onto the ball to make a play). But the past two seasons, the run-blocking has dropped off, leading to some ire from the fanbase at large.
The Camden native was part of the staff that led South Carolina to its best run, 33 wins in three year, 42 in four. He coached three All-SEC players in his time with the Gamecocks.
Elliott also turned down an assistant position at Alabama in 2013 to remain at USC. He interviewed for the East Carolina head coaching job after last season but the Pirates hired Scottie Montgomery.
Will Muschamp retained Elliott as the only holdover assistant coach on his first staff. The line had the most experience of any offensive position at USC but struggled in 2016, giving up an SEC-worst 36 sacks and contributing to the league’s worst rushing offense (138 yards per game).
A proponent of the zone-read system, Elliott’s style helped Marcus Lattimore win National Freshman of the Year honors in 2010 and get five offensive linemen drafted into the NFL. The blaze-eyed intensity he brought to the position also endeared him to his players and fans, Elliott never hesitant to ram into his players during game warm-ups.
The Georgia State job opened after Trent Miles was fired with two games to go in a 3-9 season. There had been rumors of Elliott going there last season as he was in the midst of a 1-5 run as interim for Spurrier, but Miles' Panthers won their final four regular season games to make a bowl and stave off his firing for a season.
The school began playing football in 2010 and hired longtime college coach Bill Curry to lead it. It made a quick transition to FBS and the Sun Belt Conference, but success hasn’t come easy; the Panthers haven’t had a winning season since their inaugural one.
GSU will also move its home games from the Georgia Dome to Turner Field, perhaps by 2017, as the former baseball field is converted to a football stadium.
Elliott has been instrumental in recruiting Atlanta at USC and could bring some other USC assistants to GSU with him. It is unknown if Elliott will stay with the Gamecocks through the Birmingham Bowl.
David Cloninger contributed to this report.