USC Gamecocks Football

Two former Gamecocks getting their first taste of high school coaching

Watch: Perry Orth, Cory Helms discuss coaching styles

Former South Carolina football players Perry Orth and Cory Helms are in their first year of coaching high school football. Orth is at AC Flora and Helms at Gray Collegiate.
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Former South Carolina football players Perry Orth and Cory Helms are in their first year of coaching high school football. Orth is at AC Flora and Helms at Gray Collegiate.

Dustin Curtis tried unsuccessfully to get Perry Orth on his staff when he was coaching at Westwood High School the past three years.

When Curtis got the job at A.C. Flora in the spring, he didn’t have to reach out to the former South Carolina quarterback. Orth beat him to it.

“Been talking to him for about three years now. He was just starting getting into the insurance business and couldn’t commit to the time,” Curtis said. “Fortunately, when I got to Flora, he called me and said, ‘You need a quarterbacks coach?’ Obviously, I wasn’t going to turn it down. He brings a lot of energy and passion and loves working with kids. He loves seeing growth. That kind of stuff has a positive impact on your program.”

Orth still works his day job with Insurance Management Group but his office is close to the Flora campus, making it easy to get to practice. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go into coaching when his playing days were done at USC in 2016 but said he got the “itch” to be back in the game.

Orth, a former USC walk-on, worked his way to a starting spot as a junior with the Gamecocks and threw for 2,595 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“I have such a different, unique look from where I got to play at and who I got to play for,” Orth said. “The things they taught me, it is my turn to give back to all the quarterbacks here. It is a good opportunity.”

Orth isn’t the only former Gamecock that joined a high school staff in the Midlands this season. Former South Carolina offensive lineman Cory Helms is an assistant on Gray Collegiate’s staff.

Helms leads the team’s offensive line and is the school’s strength-and-conditioning coach. He spent last season as a graduate assistant at USC after his NFL career was cut short by injuries.

Helms played 46 career games in college — 17 at center and 29 at guard — splitting four seasons between Wake Forest and South Carolina.

“Playing at South Carolina, this is home to me and I want to work on developing kids in this area,” Helms said. “Working at the high school level is a lot of fun. This is where you learn their habits. You get a chance to develop them early and have them develop good habits.”

Gray Collegiate coach Adam Holmes, a former USC player, coached the linemen in previous years, but Helms’ arrival frees him up to work with other players. The War Eagles have their most talented and biggest offensive line since the program began.

“He has been a huge asset and is making our guys better. We got a pretty good offensive line with our size,” Holmes said.

Orth and Helms have experience training high school players. Orth works with quarterbacks around the state, including Flora starter Wise Segars, with his QB1 camps. Helms works with linemen in the Midlands with TrenchWork Performance.

Both say getting to work with guys on a daily basis is more rewarding.

“I enjoy coaching the game more than I do training,” Orth said. “I love training the guys. But when you are able to coach, you get really hands on, every single day instead of once a week or once a month.”

“I love Friday night lights,” Helms said, “even if you play in college or the pros, you always remember the Friday night lights.”

Both coaches are hands-on in their approach and not afraid to show they still have something left in the tank. During a recent Gray practice, Helms had his hand down in the ground to show his players proper technique.

After a Flora practice, Orth showed off his arm by hitting the bottom of the goal post from more than 40 yards out.

“I can come out here and show these guys literally what I want physically,” Orth said. “I’m 26 years old and still throw like I did when I played. The platform you have for these guys, you can’t beat.”