The Daily Gamecock

Beamer: Newly hired Sterling Lucas gives 'best chance' to improve defensive ends, outside linebackers

<p>Former Jacksonville Jaguars assistant defensive line coach Sterling Lucas was hired by South Carolina on Jan. 14. Lucas will serve as the outside linebackers coach for the Gamecocks.</p>
Former Jacksonville Jaguars assistant defensive line coach Sterling Lucas was hired by South Carolina on Jan. 14. Lucas will serve as the outside linebackers coach for the Gamecocks.

Sterling Lucas, the newly hired outside linebackers coach at South Carolina, will be bringing a plethora of experience to help guide the Gamecocks' defense. 

Prior to being hired, he spent six years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars while working under Joe Cullen, who is currently the Jaguars defensive coordinator and formerly coached Baltimore's defensive line. 

Before following Cullen to Jacksonville, he became the Ravens' assistant defensive line coach in 2020 and helped coach a defense that ranked second in the NFL. 

"Zach (Orr) and Sterling, I was with five years. They have great knowledge of the defense... Zach played in the system and then coached with me side-by-side for the last four years, as well as Sterling," Cullen said in his introductory press conference with the Jaguars last February. "They have great energy. They're great working with players and those are two key guys."

At Friday's press conference, South Carolina head football coach Shane Beamer said he and defensive coordinator Clayton White interviewed three people for the position but decided to hire Lucas. 

"We felt like at the end, Sterling gave us the best chance to continue to improve the production in that defensive end/outside linebacker room, to continue to improve the production of our defense and to continue to recruit at an elite level," Beamer said.

Before interviewing, Beamer said he'd been in contact with a variety of coaches from the Jaguars, Ravens and Virginia Tech, who worked with Lucas. 

"They were all over-the-top in what he's about, so I think who he's been around, the players he's been around, the systems that he's been around. He will really help our football team, our defense specifically," Beamer said. "Again, there is a connection with coach White going back to the NC State days — that certainly helped — but that wasn't the reason he was hired. He was hired because he's the best guy to give us a chance to continue to elevate the performance of the guys in that room and the people in our defense." 

As a recruiter, it's unclear how Lucas will do in persuading the next batch of prospects to come play at South Carolina. Though, there's good reason to believe he can handle the responsibilities, as he's a young coach and has ties to the Carolinas. 

With his track record and connections, Beamer said he believes Lucas is capable of recruiting at an elite level. 

"He's eager to get to work. He was waiting on everything to be official so he could get here and be around junior day and start recruiting tomorrow," Beamer said Friday. 

Last season, the Gamecock defense as a whole improved significantly but showed there was still room to grow. Under White’s new defensive system, the group allowed 26 points per game compared to 2020 in which they gave up 36 points per game. 

Lucas will have a lot of talent to work with from last year's team in his first season in Columbia with playmakers like redshirt senior edge rusher Jordan Strachan and sophomore edge rusher Jordan Burch. Lucas will also benefit from the addition of NC State transfer defensive end Terrell Dawkins.

Lucas could be the right fit to help the outside linebackers group take the next step in reaching their full potential.


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