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Pete Lembo

  • position Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
  • position Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator

Pete Lembo

Pete Lembo is in his third season at South Carolina. He was named the Gamecocks’ associate head coach/special teams coordinator on Dec. 27, 2020. Following the 2022 campaign, Lembo was named a Broyles Award Assistant Coach of the Year Semifinalist, a FootballScoop Special Teams Coach of the Year Finalist and earned Phil Steele’s Special Teams Coach of the Year accolades.

The Gamecock special teams had arguably their best season on record in 2022. Carolina earned the No. 1 spot in ESPN’s special teams efficiency ranking after finishing fourth in the country in punt returns (16.6), fifth in kickoff returns (25.1), seventh in net punting (42.8), 23rd in opponent kickoff returns (17.3) and 27th in opponent punt returns (4.6). The Gamecocks tied for third in the country with six blocked kicks and tied for second with five blocked punts. Carolina scored five special teams touchdowns – two blocked punt returns, one kick return, one fake punt and one fake field goal. Junior punter Kai Kroeger was an All-American and first-team All-SEC selection. Long snapper Hunter Rogers earned second-team All-SEC honors. Placekicker Mitch Jeter was a perfect 11-for-11 in field goal attempts, including a pair of 50-plus yarders.

In 2001, the Gamecocks blocked four kicks (three punts and a field goal), tying for second in the SEC and for 10th in the country. The three blocked punts tied for the SEC lead, tied for seventh in the nation and were the most since blocking three in 2000. South Carolina averaged 24.0 yards per kick return while its kickoff return defense allowed just 18.2-yards per return. Juju McDowell earned a spot on the Freshman All-SEC team as a return specialist.

Lembo came to Carolina after two seasons as the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator at Memphis. Nominated for the Broyles Award, the 2019 Tigers special teams ranked in the top-10 in six NCAA/FBS statistical categories: kick-return yards (2nd), kick-return TD (2nd), blocked kicks (6th), blocked punts (6th), kickoff touchbacks (6th) and kick returns (9th). He also was one of three finalists for’s Special Teams Coordinator of the Year honor.

Before arriving in the Bluff City, Lembo’s special teams were ranked among the nation’s best at Rice (2018) and Maryland (2016-17). At Maryland, he also served as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach.

His 2018 Rice special teams ranked fifth in the FBS with just 16.12 kickoff return yards allowed and 15th with 24.41 kickoff return yards. As a unit, Rice’s special teams ranked 17th in the country in the ESPN Team Efficiency Rankings (60.8 percent), after coming in at 114th the season prior to Lembo’s arrival.

In his time at Maryland, Lembo’s special teams ranked as some of the best in the country. In two seasons the Terps tied for fifth nationally with nine blocked kicks.

Lembo spent five seasons as the head coach at Ball State (2011-15). During his tenure, the Cardinals set more than 60 school records, including season marks for points (501), total offense (6,199 yards), passing yards (4,214), TD passes (35) and total TD (64) in 2013.

Lembo posted a mark of 33-29 at Ball State, improving his career coaching mark to 112-65 in 15 seasons. He was the first head coach in Ball State history to win at least 30 games in his first four seasons. Lembo guided the Cardinals to a 9-4 record and an appearance in the 2012 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl and a 10-3 mark and a 2013 GoDaddy Bowl appearance. It was just the second time in the Cardinals’ 91-year history the program went to bowl games in consecutive seasons.

His Ball State special teams also ranked among the top of the Mid-American Conference in each of his five seasons. Kicker Steve Schott was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, and punter Scott Kovanda was a 2012 Ray Guy Award finalist. In 2014, kicker Scott Secor was named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year.

Lembo began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Albany (1992-93), spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Dartmouth (1994-96) and a season at Hampden-Sydney (1997) before joining the staff at Lehigh in 1998. Lembo began as an assistant coach before being named Lehigh’s head coach in 2001. In five seasons at the helm, he posted a 44-14 mark, leading Lehigh to the 2001 and 2004 Patriot League crowns and FCS playoff berths. His .759 overall winning percentage and .778 league winning percentage are the second-highest in Patriot League history. He was named the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year and Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2001 when his team finished 11-1 and ranked fifth in both NCAA Division I-AA polls.

In 2006, Lembo took over at Elon. Over the next five years, he led the Phoenix to 35 wins, more than doubling their win total from the previous five years (14). Lembo’s Elon teams broke 124 NCAA, Southern Conference (SoCon) and school records and sported a 24-14 record in SoCon play. He was named the SoCon Coach of the Year in 2007.

Lembo, a 1992 graduate of Georgetown University, was a four-year starter on the Hoyas’ offensive line and served as team captain in 1991. A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Lembo is married to the former Jenifer Kochis. The couple has three children: Sophia, A.J. and Victoria.