When thinking of coaches who are synonymous with their programs, few are more intertwined than Dawn Staley and South Carolina.
The women's basketball coaching legend is a two-time national champion, three-time coach of the year and is the only Gamecock coach in the men's or women's programs to accrue 300-plus wins. Her name is alongside UConn's Geno Auriemma and Tennessee's Pat Summitt when talking about coaches who sculpted their schools' legacies.
This is to say: No one is more qualified to identify a Gamecock legend than Staley. On Saturday, South Carolina was scheduled to retire wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey's No. 1 during halftime of the Gamecocks' matchup with Mississippi State. Jeffrey, who played at South Carolina from 2009 to 2011, had an NFL career that spanned nine years with the Bears and Eagles.
Jeffrey is second all-time for South Carolina with 3,042 yards, tied for first with 23 touchdowns, and his 16.6 yards per catch is the most of any receiver with 100-plus receptions.
Clearly, Staley approved of Jeffrey's introduction into the South Carolina elite, sporting a Jeffrey Eagles jersey before the game.
Yo, Gamecock Nation.
The future here is bright. 🤙🏾 pic.twitter.com/A85NyKBQRd
— Lamont Paris (@CoachLParis) September 23, 2023
There's definitely a lot of love between the two. In the past, Jeffrey helped the Philadelphia Eagles honor the Philadelphia-born Staley.
"I'm honored to be here today to support a great friend and even better coach — maybe the best coach in America — I wanna say thank you for all you do for the state of South Carolina," Jeffrey said at the time, per NFL.com. "We finally getting the recognition we deserve. And on behalf of myself and Philadelphia Eagles, we wanna give you a small token."
Jeffrey then presented Staley with a No. 5 Staley jersey and a No. 17 Jeffrey jersey.
It's only right Staley would help honor Jeffrey after the receiver helped honor her. The two are connected in multiple ways, not least of which is that they're an indelible part of South Carolina lore from here on out.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Dawn Staley dons Alshon Jeffery jersey as South Carolina retires No. 1