Stepp returns home to coach South Carolina wide receivers

Stepp returns home to coach South Carolina wide receivers
Stepp returns home to coach South Carolina wide receivers (Source: The Big Spur)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (The Big Spur) - South Carolina head football coach Shane Beamer completed his offensive coaching staff on Sunday with the hire of Justin Stepp as his wide receivers coach. Stepp, who was born in Columbia, had previously been at Arkansas as that program’s wide receivers coach since 2018.

A graduate of Pelion High School and Furman University, Stepp began his coaching career in the Palmetto State. He was Fort Mill High School’s wide receivers and strength and conditioning coach in 2007 before making the jump to college.

He spent one season (2008) serving as North Greenville’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. He then spent three seasons at Clemson as a graduate assistant on offense. The last nine seasons he has been strictly a wide receivers coach; first for Appalachian State (2012-14), then SMU (2015-17) and Arkansas (2018-20).

Stepp was the primary recruiter for Arkansas’ top rated signee for the Class of 2021, four-star receiver Ketron Jackson (Royse City, Texas/Royse City). The same can be said for four-star athlete Raheim Sanders (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge). According to his all time commits page on 247Sports.com, Stepp has been the primary recruiter for five four-star prospects.

During Stepp’s career as a wide receivers coach, he’s tutored three different players who have combined for four 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

He did not produce a 1,000-yard receiver at Arkansas, but five players combined for six 400+ yard seasons and 26 touchdowns in thee seasons. Treylon Burks, a Class of 2019 four-star wide receiver, had 29 catches for 475 yards as a freshman in 2019 and lead the team in receiving in 2020 with 51 catches for 820 yards and seven touchdowns.

Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn at SMU were 2018 NFL Draft selections. Sutton, a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos, posted career receiving totals of 3,152 yards and 31 touchdowns on 189 receptions in four seasons at SMU.

Over Stepp’s first two seasons at Appalachian State, he coached three players who combined to earn five All-Southern Conference honors, including All-American Sean Price who set NCAA Division I FCS freshman records with 81 receptions and 1,196 receiving yards in 2012.

Stepp returns to his hometown to coach the Gamecocks wide receivers, a group that struggled mightily in 2020. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo could not count on any wide receiver other than senior Shi Smith, who led the team with 57 catches for 633 yards and four touchdowns. Smith, who ranks in the Top 10 in program history in receptions and receiving yards, will not return in 2021, having already stated he will enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

The next best receiver, in terms of stats, was junior Jalen Brooks, who was not cleared to play until the fifth game of the season due to a transfer appeal. Brooks had just 11 catches for 100 yards in six games played. Other wide receivers from the 2020 roster are redshirt junior Chad Terrell, junior Josh Vann, redshirt sophomore Dakereon Joyner, sophomore Xavier Legette and freshmen Rico Powers, Ger-Cari Caldwell and Mike Wyman.

Redshirt senior Randrecous Davis and redshirt junior OrTre Smith are receivers that opted out for the 2020 season.

The 2021 signing class includes three-star wide receiver O’Mega Blake (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe) and three-star wide receiver Sam Reynolds (Alabaster, Ala./Thompson). The program has also acquired  Ahmarean Brown from the NCAA Transfer Portal. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound receiver will be a classified as a sophomore in 2021. He played in 20 games with Georgia Tech over the last two years with 33 catches for 619 yards (18.8 average) and eight touchdowns.

Stepp joins a Gamecocks offensive coaching staff led by offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo. The other retained coach from the 2020 staff was running backs coach Des Kitchings. Former Gamecocks quarterback Erik Kimrey has been hired to coach tight ends and Will Friend goes from Knoxville and Tennessee football to Columbia and South Carolina football to coach the offensive line.

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