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Hunter takes over for Rychleski

Jeep Hunter
Jeep Hunter

Steve Spurrier has finalized his coaching staff ... he hopes.

In a long-anticipated move that likely will not be official until next week, South Carolina tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski has accepted a job as the special teams coach for new Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell, multiple sources said Tuesday.

Spurrier wasted little time making his sixth hire of the offseason, introducing former Georgia Tech and Memphis assistant Johnson “Jeep” Hunter as the Gamecocks’ new tight ends coach at a team meeting Tuesday morning.

Hunter, 41, interviewed for the Gamecocks’ running backs position that was filled last week by former Tennessee tailback Jay Graham.

USC cornerbacks coach Shane Beamer will take over the special teams. Beamer was the Gamecocks’ co-special teams coordinator in 2007 with Fred Chatham, who was fired and replaced by Rychleski following the ’07 season.

The Colts had no announcement Tuesday regarding staff hires. The NFL discourages its teams from announcing news during the week of the Super Bowl.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Rychleski declined to comment.

Rychleski has known Caldwell since 1991 when Rychleski was a graduate assistant and Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach for Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

The Pennsylvania-born Rychleski was Caldwell’s special teams coach at Wake Forest from 1993-2000. Rychleski interviewed with Caldwell shortly after Caldwell succeeded Tony Dungy in Indianapolis this month.

Rychleski, 51, came to USC from Maryland, where his punt teams went seven years without getting a punt blocked — the longest streak in Division I-A. Though Rychleski’s streak ended last season at Clemson, Spurrier called him the most organized special teams coach he had worked with.

Hunter, who was out of coaching in 2008, was Georgia Tech’s tight ends coach for two years until Chan Gailey was fired following the 2007 season. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson did not retain him.

Before arriving at Georgia Tech, Hunter spent three seasons as the running backs coach at Memphis, where he worked with Carolina Panthers tailback D’Angelo Williams, the nation’s leading rusher in 2005.

A native of Denver, N.C., Hunter played at Catawba before a knee injury ended his career. Hunter was at Clemson from 1996-98 as a graduate assistant and administrator under Tommy West, for whom he worked at Memphis.

Barring any additional, unforeseen staff changes, Spurrier will begin spring practice with five new on-field coaches and a new strength and conditioning coach.

Receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. is the lone remaining assistant on an offensive staff that lost line coach John Hunt (fired), running backs coach Robert Gillespie (left for Oklahoma State), quarterbacks coach David Reaves (Tennessee) and Rychleski.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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