Garret McGuire had an idea. But in his father’s opinion, that wouldn’t be enough.
Garret, a Baylor sophomore quarterback at the time, needed more before he walked into head coach Matt Rhule’s office with a play suggestion. He needed a plan. He needed notes. He needed video proof.
Even then, “he’s still going to crush your soul,” Joey McGuire, a former Baylor assistant and now head coach at Texas Tech, recalled telling his son. “But he’s going to respect you when you walk out of there.”
The first part of his father’s prediction came true the next day in Rhule’s office. Soul crushed, but Garret was undeterred. And as for the second part? There’s no doubt about it these days.
Shortly after Garret graduated in 2021, Rhule, then head coach of the Carolina Panthers, hired him as an assistant. This February, Rhule hired Garret to be his wide receivers coach at Nebraska.
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“He’s just one of the best young coaches I’ve ever been around,” Rhule told The Dallas Morning News.
Garret’s young. He’s so young that one of Nebraska’s wide receivers, Josh Fleeks, was his high school teammate at Cedar Hill, where his dad spent 13 years as head coach.
But despite being one of college football’s youngest coaches at 24, Garret is not lacking for experience. This rare opportunity has been a lifetime in the making.
A young coach in the making
People who know him best say Garret is a sponge. His father claims if he doesn’t have a photographic memory, he’s close.
“Everyone says go be a fly on the wall,” Garret said. “I was a fly on the wall in every single room I could be. And today I still try to be like that.”
Cedar Hill won three state titles and was a national powerhouse under Joey’s direction. That success meant coaches from across the nation would drop by Joey’s office. And who would be there, sometimes sleeping under the desk? Garret.
One time he woke up and started rattling off stats of former Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde to the school’s then-offensive coordinator, Tom Herman.
Another time, when his family was moving his sister, Reagan, into school at Texas Tech, Garret snuck off to Kliff Kingsbury’s office and they started talking football.
Garret’s picked the brain of pretty much every prominent football coach in Texas over the last two decades, from Kingsbury to Gary Patterson.
“He’s probably taken something from everybody he’s been around,” Rhule said. “Joey loves his players more than any coach I’ve been around in my life. He has the best relationships, and Garret has that ability.
“Joe Brady has elite creativity. Ben McAdoo has tremendous work ethic and discipline, and you see all those things in Garret.”
Garret said he’s a coach because of coaches. He still exchanges text messages about coaching with Aaron Gabrysch, his middle school basketball coach who doesn’t even coach anymore.
“They cared about me,” Garret said. “I always gravitated towards coaches … and I think those coaches have rubbed off on me so much.”
A comfortable environment
But what kind of coach will Garret be? There are indicators in that department, as well.
When he was at Baylor, he was already coaching, despite Rhule dismissing his early play suggestions. He lived with Baylor’s starting quarterback, Charlie Brewer. They’d go over game plans together, and Garret would report back to his dad and the other coaches about what would work.
In the summer, when coaches weren’t around the team, Garret would go over the playbook with players and even run meetings.
Rhule recently talked about Garret on “Bussin’ With the Boys,” a popular podcast and video cast hosted by NFL offensive linemen Will Compton and Taylor Lewan. “One of our former players, Blake Blackmar, texted me … and said, ‘Hey, anytime a 17-year-old can run the o-line meetings, you know he’s going to be special,’ ” Rhule recalled the former NFL offensive lineman saying about Garret.
Garret may coach receivers at Nebraska, but he keeps his office door open and his snack drawer full to entice any player to come by to talk ball. He maintains a steady supply of Hot Cheetos and Honey Buns, ready to be dished out to anyone willing to sit with him.
“It takes three or four minutes to eat a honey bun,” Garret said. “So that’s three or four minutes they get to talk with me and we get to learn about each other.”
It’s about creating a comfortable environment for them, Garret said, in an environment where he already feels comfortable.
Carving his own path
But becoming a position coach at 24 has its challenges, Garret said, particularly when it comes to recruiting.
When Fleeks, a former Baylor wide receiver entered the transfer portal, Joey thought he could get his former player to Texas Tech. Instead, Fleeks decided to go to Nebraska and reunite with Garret, his former high school teammate.
“I was fired up for him,” Joey said of Fleeks. “I told Garret I just want one of the McGuires coaching him.”
Naturally, the two McGuires — father and son — are tied together. They share a last name, they share a love for football, and they share a similar demeanor.
Joey will insist, though, that Garret is on his own journey.
“He didn’t want to be Coach McGuire’s son,” Joey said. “He wanted to be Coach McGuire and then he’s my son.”
DeSoto coach Claude Mathis has known the McGuires for a long time. He used to fly back and forth from the annual Under Armour game with Garret and his sister while Joey coached.
“This is all him,” Mathis said of Garret. “This has nothing to do with his dad. He’s earned it. He’s coached, he’s played, and he’s worked hard to get where he’s at now.”
Joey said he and Garret have talked about him coaching at Texas Tech, but they decided it would be important for him to carve his own path. He has that chance at Nebraska now.
“So whenever he does come here, at least he’s got some experience,” Joey said.
Then he paused.
“If he ever does,” Joey said, correcting himself. “Who knows. Him and coach Rhule are so close. Five to 10 years from now he might be the offensive coordinator with coach Rhule, and we never get to coach together.”
If that’s the case, Garret won’t have to suggest plays to Rhule. He’ll be calling them.