COLUMBIA, S.C. — Eric Wolford’s coaching journey has taken him to eastern Ohio and the West Coast since he left South Carolina in 2010.
But even as the challenges of coaching his own college program and an NFL schedule kept him from watching too much college football, Wolford still had his eye on South Carolina from afar. So when the offensive line coaching position opened in December, Wolford had immediate interest.
“I would say that there was definite interest on my part, as I kind of watched what was taking place this last year,” Wolford said. “I missed college football. I really did. An opportunity to come back to South Carolina, a place I had been before, was something that I couldn’t pass up.”
The longtime football coach is back in Columbia, filling the role held by Shawn Elliott and the role he held in 2009. He departed after one season, taking the head coaching job at Youngstown State. Wolford held that title from 2010 to ’14 and spent the last two years as an assistant offensive line coach with the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco’s season ended on Jan. 1, and the process moved rapidly for Wolford and the Gamecocks. He wrapped up “some loose ends” with the 49ers, met with coach Will Muschamp and was offered the job. He accepted without a second thought.
“My wife and I had made the decision that if this opportunity presented itself, we weren’t going to pass it up,” Wolford said.
The experience so far has been great for Wolford, who said the offensive linemen have responded well. He praised Elliott’s work with the Gamecocks, saying they have handled tough coaching well.
“These guys work really hard,” Wolford said. “Their attention to detail, some of the things we have been talking [about] in the meeting room, even when they are out there doing conditioning drills and stuff. For the most part, they work hard. We just want to really focus right now on getting better. That means getting better with our weightlifting in the weight room, whether it’s working on football away from the building here or getting better to do the things we need to do to become a productive offensive line unit.”
As South Carolina opened spring football on Feb. 25, Wolford still was working out getting his family moved to Columbia. But moving from coast to coast is worth it for Wolford because he is back at South Carolina.
“This is a special place,” Wolford said. “My wife and I, we had such a great experience last time we were here. The atmosphere here, the passion of the fans, just some of the things that they have done around here. It’s an exciting place to play.”