Nebraska’s new wide receivers coach addressed local media for the first time on Thursday. A 24-year old who dreamt of coaching football over half his life. Garret McGuire was born a coach’s son and idolized his father. Joey McGuire, once a prominent high school coach and now Texas Tech head coach, raised his son around football. His son didn’t mind.
The younger McGuire knew he wanted to be a football coach in second grade. He explained on Thursday, “That year I knew I wasn’t much of a football player and would get right into coaching.”
That’s also the year he witnessed his father lead Cedar Hill High School to its first ever state championship. He’d sleep in the Cedar Hill coaches’ office, unable to stay awake as his father watched film. Tape became his Saturday morning cartoons. Football practice became a second school and wrestling mats laid out for mat drills became his playground.
His mother pulled him out of class in fourth grade to meet Texas head coach Mack Brown, during a recruiting stop at Cedar Hill. The aspiring coach met one of his idols that day. McGuire, who said during the Thursday presser that his first memory of Nebraska was the 2009 Big 12 Championship against Texas, met Brown again a few years later. Brown remembered the young McGuire’s name. The soon-to-be coach recalled that moment when he joined the Carolina Panthers coaching staff. By that time, Matt Rhule seized a top spot in McGuire’s coaching idol hierarchy.
He played quarterback but wasn’t a prized recruit. His highest accomplishment involved engineering a 20-point comeback against Mansfield, tallying 256 total yards and two touchdowns, as a backup. He’d pull out an inflatable mattress after games, grade film and break down opponents with his father. He fell in love with the process. While he mainly played special teams in addition to backup quarterback and reserve receiver, he kept learning. McGuire walked on at Baylor and spent the majority of his time learning from coaches. He wore the headset far more than his helmet.
“He’s been a quarterback his entire life,” secondary coach Evan Cooper said last month. “And as you know, quarterback is always in a leadership position. When you’re a freshman quarterback they don’t say don’t yell at the senior. You’re just a leader. And he’s a leader, absolutely.”
During his 2-year NFL stint, McGuire learned from Joe Brady, Ben McAdoo, James Campen, Matt Lombardi and Mike Seravo. He considered time with them an advanced coaching course, soaking up information from coaches at the highest level. Between those five alone are 90 years of coaching experience with multiple Super Bowls and a Broyles Award.
“Those guys really poured into me, taught me from a young age how to coach, how to treat people,” McGuire said on Thursday. “Obviously, my dad and Coach Rhule being the two biggest influences on me.
“Yeah, I’m probably a little bit ahead of the curve, being younger, but like I said, we’re just going at it.”
McGuire left his job as an offensive assistant coach with the Carolina Panthers and immediately immersed himself in Nebraska football. He likened it to drinking out of a firehose. McGuire hit the ground running in Texas on the recruiting trail. That already became one of the most rewarding parts of the job to him. He reconnected with Texas high school coaches he admires. A few days ago he tweeted that high school football coaches are his heroes. His original hero coached him at Cedar Hill. He’s called his father almost every night to talk.
Joey McGuire is a dogged recruiter and evaluator. He led a program to its first three Texas state championships. Then Rhule hired him as tight ends coach at Baylor. In the wake of scandal, the elder McGuire found a home on Rhule’s high-energy recruiting staff. Texas Tech hired him as head coach in November 2021. The Red Raiders went 8-5 last year and beat both Oklahoma and Texas in the same season for the first time in program history, in his first season as head coach. The two McGuires stayed in touch through that. Two coaches, one looking for feedback from another.
“Just always trying to get an evaluation of me,” Garret McGuire said. “Am I doing enough, am I doing the right things?”
On those calls, his father reminds him to simply talk to the players and their parents. Build relationships with them. McGuire asks players how they’re doing off the field. Before he arrived on the sixth floor at Memorial Stadium on Thursday, the wide receivers coach hosted players from all over the country. He invited them to his office to enjoy honey buns and pop tarts while he studied film.
This new coaching staff is sketching its collective scheme plans. McGuire said what this staff wants to do at Nebraska involves carryover from every stop in his career. He played quarterback at Baylor when current Nebraska offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield coached that room. Obviously, that was during a time when Rhule was the head coach. Satterfield and McGuire briefly worked together for the Panthers before Satterfield’s move to South Carolina. They’re familiar with each other down to terminology.
“Right now we’re speaking in tongues, kinda, to some of the other people in the room,” McGuire said. “But to us it all makes sense. We’re pulling from all these offenses and the verbiage, it just hits our brain.”
Then there’s the competitive, fiery nature. Tight ends coach Bob Wager shared on Thursday that McGuire doesn’t need to be looked after. He can take care of himself and hold his own. Cooper referred to him as a grinder. Those two—wide receivers coach and secondary coach—push each other in daily workouts. They aim for 4:30 a.m. every day. McGuire admitted Cooper beat him to that mark two straight days. That hasn’t well with the Texas native.
“We’re lucky to have Garret,” Cooper said last month. “Garret’s a football brain. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve been around.”
McGuire’s room is also competitive. He’s witnessed it in workouts. New arrival Billy Kemp showed his work ethic on mat drills and the Juggs machine. Each receiver along with him matched his work ethic. It’s not a byproduct of McGuire as much as it is a result of this coaching staff’s vision. And McGuire was chosen to join that staff because he believes in the same things.
“That standard’s already set with how they want to play,” McGuire said. “Then you add our brand on top of that of being the toughest, hardest working, most competitive team in the country.”