When South Carolina was in the market for a new football coach, many former Gamecocks were vocal in their support for Shane Beamer. A.J. Cann was one of those players.
Cann had a great relationship with Beamer, who was an assistant at USC from 2007-10 and recruited Cann coming out of high school. USC hired Beamer in December and his presence has brought a new energy to a Gamecocks program that is coming off a 2-8 season.
“When I heard his name mentioned, I was like, yeah, we got to go get this guy back at South Carolina,” Cann told The State. “For him to come back to the university and what he did beforehand at the winning programs he has been at, I hope he brings that same mentality to South Carolina, and I know he will.”
Cann said he hasn’t personally spoken to Beamer since he was hired in December and wanted to stop by the school last Monday, but Beamer was at Southeastern Conference Media Days in Alabama.
Cann said Beamer was his main recruiter coming out of Bamberg-Ehrhardt. The offensive lineman was part of USC’s high-profile 2010 recruiting class that included Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore. Beamer left USC in 2011 for a job working with his father, Frank, at Virginia Tech.
“Throughout the recruiting process he was my guy,” Cann said of Beamer. “To have him make a decision to leave the program, I was heartbroken. But to have him back, it feels really good. I hope he gets some good stuff started in South Carolina.”
Cann was back in Columbia on Monday taking part in an event with Ezekiel Ministries and Dreambuilders Foundation hosted at Beltline Lanes. The big offensive lineman took pictures, bowled and handed out shoes to kids in the Ezekiel Ministries mentorship program. The event was sponsored by McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates.
Cann is entering his seventh season with the Jacksonville Jaguars and is in his final year of a three-year contract signed in 2019. He has appeared in at least 14 games in each season and started 90 of 91 games during his career.
One of Cann’s duties this year will be blocking for former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. Lawrence was the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft and is expected to be the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. Etienne was the Jags’ first pick in the second round and is expected to play running back and receiver this season.
The Jags also have a new coach in Urban Meyer, who is making the jump to the NFL after winning national championships at Florida and Ohio State.
“These guys were drafted where they were at for a reason. Those two kids are working hard, not just them but all the rookies,” Cann said. “That is the kind of mentality coach Meyer has been coaching. I am excited for this year. It is going to be a great year and big year for us.”