When Joshua Fleeks left Baylor after five seasons, he knew he wanted to spend his final year of college football in a family atmosphere.
His role with the Bears had diminished over the years as the coaching staff became less familiar. Matt Rhule left after the 2019 season, bringing the wide receivers coach along with him to the Carolina Panthers. After three years under Dave Aranda, Fleeks searched for somewhere he could have fun living out his final collegiate season.
Originally, he was looking toward Texas Tech and head coach Joey McGuire, who was Fleeks’ high school coach for a few years and an assistant at Baylor from 2017 to 2021. Then, Rhule and McGuire’s son — wide receivers coach Garret McGuire — came into the picture at Nebraska.
“Once coach [Garret] McGuire got the job, he hit me up asking if I wanted to come and I was like, I gotta think about it though,” Fleeks said at Tuesday’s press conference. “It kind of was a no-brainer, honestly. But it was a big decision to make.”
Fleeks and McGuire have known each other since they played together in high school and through college. The wide receiver said he knew the former quarterback could be a coach from the moment they met, and it’s been fun to watch him actually be in that role.
Their relationship changes some on the field — Fleeks said he’s treated like a player now, rather than a brother — but their history has given the current player an advantage this spring.
“Definitely makes communication easier. Like I’m not scared to come ask him or tell him anything,” Fleeks said. “I know him, he knows me like the back of our hands.”
The wide receivers coach also spoke Tuesday, saying that their prior connection not only makes their communication easier, but helps set an example for the rest of the wide receiver room. McGuire detailed his expectation of “Husker speed”, meaning competing with “overwhelming effort” each play, and Fleeks is familiar with that coaching tenet.
“A lot of times when I speak, I can kind of speak his language,” McGuire said. “Then also, there’s two or three times where I’m showing a clip and he’s on the clip, right. And then, obviously, you know, we’re installing the brand. We’re installing Husker speed. He knows that, so any time he’s on the field, and you can kind of show what Husker speed really looks like, that speaks volumes.”
While Fleeks has gotten comfortable, it hasn’t been the easiest. After spending his high school years and five seasons of college in the same state, transferring brought a challenge.
“Me, I don’t like moving around a lot,” Fleeks said. “It is kind of difficult for me anyways, I’m not speaking about everybody else, I’m just saying for me because I’m not a real outgoing person. I don’t like to talk a lot.”
He said he’s had to force himself to open up in some ways, and being older has helped him do that. Fleeks had praise for this wide receiver group and its communication skills, saying that everyone has the ability to be vocal. He also said that they’re all smart, dynamic and versatile on the field.
With 1,000-yard receiver Trey Palmer headed to the NFL, the top options at the position are unclear. Fleeks has high expectations for the pass-catchers and offense as a whole, including plenty of explosive plays.
“I think it’s gonna be a great offense,” Fleeks said. “I feel like we’re gonna pick it up a lot. We’re gonna do things Nebraska probably never seen before, honestly.”