From Neckties to Super Bowls: How South Carolina football legend Dan Reeves led new assistant Joe DeCamillis to USC

South Carolina football assistant Joe DeCamillis is the son-in-law and coaching protege of Gamecock legend Dan Reeves.
New South Carolina football special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis when he worked for the Dallas Cowboys
New South Carolina football special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis when he worked for the Dallas Cowboys / Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend, news surfaced that South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer had found his replacement for outgoing special teams coordinator and associate head coach Pete Lembo. Lembo, who led the top special teams unit in the country in 2022, accepted the head job at the University of Buffalo, and Beamer vowed only to hire someone he felt could be the "best in the country" to replace him.

There's a great argument to make that he did just that as 30-year NFL veteran Joe DeCamillis is officially on board with the Gamecocks in the same dual-role as Lembo. The new special teams coordinator and associate head coach is very well-respected in NFL circles, and he even has some experience in the college game, spending 2023 with the Texas Longhorns as a close advisor to head coach Steve Sarkisian.

But DeCamillis' journey in coaching started long ago alongside a name that is very familiar to South Carolina football fans.

Dan Reeves, a legendary quarterback talent for the Gamecocks on some bad teams in the 1960s, hired his son-in-law to be an administrative assistant to the team's strength and conditioning program when Reeves was the head coach of the Denver Broncos. The man who married his daughter was, in fact, DeCamillis, and the off-the-field hire soon grew into a coaching partnership between the two men.

DeCamillis was relatively fresh out of college (where he was an All-American wrestler at the University of Wyoming) when Reeves hired him, and as Coach Joe D recalled in his introductory press conference with the South Carolina football program on Groundhog Day, he was so young that he didn't even know how to tie a tie, something that Reeves soon remedied by teaching him himself.

After a short time as an administrative assistant, DeCamillis became an assistant working with defense and special teams with the Broncos, and when Reeves moved on to become the headman of the New York Giants, he brought DeCamillis with him. The duo helped lead the Giants to their best-ever season under a first-year head coach.

Reeves and DeCamillis later moved on to the Atlanta Falcons organization, where Reeves led the Falcons to their first Super Bowl appearance. DeCamillis' special teams unit was very good that season as kicker Morten Andersen had one of the best years of his career, and kick returner Tim Dwight had his first return touchdown, something he would do for three years in a row under DeCamillis.

After Reeves retired, DeCamillis was retained by new head coach Jim Mora, and he went on to coach in the NFL until 2022, including 14 more seasons as a special teams coordinator. He was the STC for two Super Bowl champions as the 2015 Denver Broncos and 2021 Los Angeles Rams brought home the Lombardi Trophy. Both teams had at least one special teams touchdown and elite field goal kicking those seasons.

The new South Carolina football assistant coach has often given credit to his father-in-law for getting him into coaching (even after turning him down twice over fears of nepotism) and mentoring him into becoming an eventual Super Bowl champion, something Reeves experienced as a player and assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

Now, Joe DeCamillis has the opportunity to coach at a place he heard about often from his father-in-law and former Gamecock Ernest Jones, who he coached with the Rams.

As impossible as it sounds because of the excellence of Pete Lembo, it seems as if Shane Beamer has found someone who can ensure there won't be a special teams coaching drop off in 2024.

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