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J.C. Brignone clutched his BlackBerry and clicked open the screen.

The reminders of a hellish night lay around his hometown of Pass Christian, Mississippi. The black 1979 Ford F-150 he’d spent four years restoring with his father had been flipped on its head and the cab smashed in. The remnants of the family’s home just seven or eight houses off the beach had disappeared with the tide.

“Our whole house was gone,” he said. “I mean, there was nothing but cinder blocks.”

In a matter of a night, Hurricane Katrina ripped away the life Brignone and his family previously enjoyed — replacing it with scrap metal, months living in a FEMA trailer and a football career that bounced from St. Stanislaus to Lilburn Parkview High School just outside Atlanta.

Brignone estimates he finally got cell phone service later that day or early the next. Among the frantic missed calls and voicemails, only two were from college coaches who’d been recruiting the hulking lineman before the storm — Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom and then-assistant Shane Beamer.

“They were there ready for me to come in and not have to worry about anything else,” Brignone told The State. “I felt like I had made one of the best decisions I could and was just moving forward.”

At his core, Beamer is a “relationship guy.” He keeps people close and maintains connections with those he crosses paths.

In the months since his introduction as the 36th head football coach in South Carolina history, peers have lauded his ability as a recruiter. There’s no games or false promises with Beamer. He’s tireless in his work ethic. What you see is what you get.

“You’re trying to sell (recruits) and talk to them about your vision, what you want your program to look like, what it is going to be about on the field, how I see them fitting in,” Beamer said in December. “So it takes a lot of trust.”

From Georgia and Oklahoma to Columbia, South Carolina

Beamer has long brought a level of comfort and realness around his players during the recruiting process and once on campus.

Former four-star Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich had over 20 offers coming out of Charlotte Christian School. Alabama was interested. So too were LSU, Florida, Michigan and Auburn.

Blazevich eventually settled on a top-six that excluded Virginia Tech. Undaunted, Beamer, then an assistant on his father’s staff in Blacksburg, Virginia, stopped into Charlotte Christian for a visit. He and Blazevich met in the weight room on campus. Beamer did his best to sell Blazevich on the Hokies, though Blazevich kindly explained his intentions.

Two years after the encounter, Beamer was hired onto Kirby Smart’s staff at Georgia as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Blazevich was among his early calls.

“I just remember leaving that interaction and feeling extremely comforted,” Blazevich told The State. “Because there’s a lot of anxiety with new coaches, new staffs, but just his calming presence and I think his confidence in the position really helped.”

That Beamer has clicked as a recruiter is little surprise. He’s charismatic and realistic. He’s charming and exciting.

Meeting with boosters last week as part of the Welcome Home Tour, Beamer spent more than 30 minutes signing autographs. Fans of all ages later bombarded him with questions on everything from recruiting to his favorite USC traditions. One younger fan even shared a back-and-forth with Beamer about her school year.

“He always has been really personable,” former Gamecock and current South Pointe High School head coach DeVonte Holloman told The State. “He cares about you as a person just as much as he cares about you as a player.”

Beamer’s long been lauded for his ability to accumulate talent. He aided in bringing five-star running back Zamir White and five-star tight end Isaac Nauta to Georgia. He was later part of the Oklahoma contingent that landed five-star quarterback signee Caleb Williams.

During his four-year spell on Steve Spurrier’s staff in Columbia, Beamer helped the Gamecocks ink all-time great quarterback Connor Shaw. He was also involved with the signings of Alshon Jeffery, A.J. Cann and Gamecock legend Marcus Lattimore.

“He painted this picture of opportunity and legacy — what I could do for the university,” Lattimore told The State. “But he also knew my mom, he knew my cousins, he knew my sister and to this day always still takes the time to ask how they’re doing. He’s just a human.”

Bringing talent to the USC roster

In Beamer’s time at South Carolina between 2007 and 2010, the Gamecocks averaged a No. 22 finish in the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings.

Twice South Carolina signed at least 10 four-star recruits in that span. The 2010 haul also included Lattimore, a five-star prospect and the No. 9 player in the 247Sports Composite Rankings.

Now entering his first season as the head coach in Columbia, Beamer’s already netted a commitment from four-star passer Braden Davis and a trio of three-star commits in the class of 2022. Beamer’s staff has also already doled out 130 offers in the class of 2023 according to 247Sports.

“He tries to recruit every kid on the board,” South Carolina Director of Player Personnel Taylor Edwards joked. “And that’s not possible for anybody, especially here, with all the stuff he’s got going on, but it’s a good thing. He works his ass off.”

Scrolling through Tik Tok last week, Brignone stumbled upon a video of Beamer and his assistant coaches prank calling players. The one minute and four second video brought a smile to Brignone’s face and a brief moment of reflection.

In the nearly 16 years since he left a voicemail on Brignone’s BlackBerry, Beamer has remained the same fun-loving, caring person who helped land Brignone at Mississippi State.

Beamer has since secured scores of talent, but it’s the minute moments with those players are what remains most memorable.

“I’m like, ‘Hey, this is awesome,’” Brignone said of spying the short clip. “Because this was the guy I remember — this lively, funny, 20-something coach.”