Garret McGuire’s Coaching Journey Starts With the Carolina Panthers

Garrett McGuire
Garrett McGuire Photo by Cedar Hill ISD

Joey McGuire’s Son Heads To The NFL As Offensive Assistant

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) When Garret McGuire was in fourth grade, his mother, Debbie, picked him up early for school. It was a special occasion because McGuire was about to meet one of his football heroes.

McGuire, a Cedar Hill High School Class of 2017 Graduate and the son of longtime former Cedar Hill High School head football coach Joey McGuire, was immersed in football at a young age. And by second grade, he’d watched his father lead Cedar Hill to the 2006 State Championship, the first in program history.

A few months earlier, another group of Longhorns – of the Burnt Orange variety – captured their first national championship in a generation.

And University of Texas head football coach Mack Brown was about to make a recruiting trip to Cedar Hill, where he would meet with the elder McGuire.

“I went on to meet Mack Brown again a few years after that, and he still remembered my name,” McGuire said. “I thought that was the coolest thing.”

Brown was the gold standard of college football coaches for McGuire, until he met Matthew Kenneth Rhule one evening.

Turning Baylor from 1-11 to a Sugar Bowl appearance may have been Rhule’s third most impressive feat.

The first was convincing a lifelong UT fanatic to choose the Bears over the Longhorns. The second was encouraging that same guy – a lifelong Texan – to accept a job 392 miles away from the closest Whataburger location.

All kidding aside, McGuire said playing for – and later accepting a job as an offensive assistant for the Carolina Panthers – where Rhule is entering his second season as head coach – was an obvious choice.

“Coach Rhule had a huge impact on me,” McGuire said. “He changed my life and the way I think, the way I act. Any chance to be around him, I was there. He gave me a chance to play at the next level and instilled toughness, work ethic and the way to do things correctly.”

McGuire graduated from Baylor in 3.5 years last December with a degree in Kinesiology. A two-time All-Big 12 Academic Selection, he started with the Panthers in February.

It’s his first time away from his family, all of whom live in Texas. His father is the Associate Head Coach at Baylor under Dave Aranda.

Being on his own in Charlotte has been a blessing, as he’s become a sponge for learning about football. Although his focus is offense, he wakes up daily at 5 a.m. to join Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow – a former Baylor Defensive Coordinator – on the treadmill just to absorb knowledge from the longtime college/NFL coach.

The offensive assistant role is equivalent to a college program’s graduate assistant. He’ll work with acclaimed Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who helped lead LSU to a national championship in 2019, as they navigate a challenging NFC South Division that includes defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay and defending division champion New Orleans.

The coaching office is filled with former Baylor staffers, demonstrating Rhule’s trust and loyalty.

It’s an entry level spot, but to put it into perspective, the elder McGuire planned on working in health care until he joined Crowley High School’s staff as an assistant coach in the early 1990s.

Rhule? His first gig was working with linebackers at tiny Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1998, the year before McGuire was born.

“I’m very proud of him and very happy for him,” Joey said. “He is learning from one of the best coaches in the business.”


Longhorn Roots

McGuire was born on February 3, 1999 when his father was the Cedar Hill High School Football Team’s Safeties Coach. He was four years old in 2003 when Joey was promoted to head coach.

There’s a photo of them smiling together at Joey’s introductory press conference.

“One of my earliest memories was sleeping under my dad’s desk at Cedar Hill with a football-shaped pillow that one of the players from the 2004 Team gave him,” McGuire said. “In Kindergarten, a couple Cedar Hill Football Players arrived at Show & Tell and passed out footballs to everyone.”

As an elementary scholar, McGuire would run onto the field and pick up the tee. Then, he became a ballboy.

“I’d ride on the bus with the team, and I was close with all of those guys,” McGuire said of the 2006 Team. “It was such a special group.”

McGuire was part of the CHHS Football Program in 2013 and 2014 (as a freshman and sophomore) when they won their second and third State Championships, respectively.

He didn’t play on varsity during those years, but something pivotal happened after that 2014 season.

UT dismissed Mack Brown after 16 seasons and hired Charlie Strong. In an effort to build credibility with Texas high school coaches and key recruits, Strong offered Joey a position on his staff.

At first sight, it seemed like a dream come true. A father and a son who grew up loyal UT fans with a chance to be part of the storied program.

But there was a downside, too. A move away from the Metroplex and the loss of the chance for father and son to share their sidelines under the Friday Night Lights.

Ultimately, those were the reasons that prompted McGuire to stay at Cedar Hill.

“It meant the world to me,” McGuire said. “At the time, we were both such big Texas fans. That being what it was. He wanted to finish things with me. We will never get those two years back. It was so much fun for my mom. We had so much fun with that team. Those were all my best friends – I saw them on the field, off the field and at my house.”

McGuire was the backup quarterback to All-American Avery Davis, who recently completed his college career at Notre Dame. As a second quarterback, he passed for 913 yards and nine touchdowns and doubled as the team’s long snapper.

His future plans still revolved around Austin – either as a walk-on or student assistant at UT.

But then Baylor hired Rhule, who was so new to Texas that he couldn’t tell Whataburger from Hamburger Helper. He needed to shore up his Lone Star State credentials, so his first call was to Joey, who went 141-42 with three state championships in 14 seasons.

That led to a meeting with father, son and the new head coach of the Green & Gold. At that point, the McGuire’s were officially unhooked from the (UT) Horns, but never the Cedar Hill Longhorns.


Building at Baylor

McGuire had a total of eight yards in three seasons at Baylor. He didn’t go to the Waco-based university to become a football star but rather to learn as much about the sport as possible.

Coaching was his future, sometimes to the chagrin of his teammates. He wore the same uniform as they did, but his thorough, honest and heartfelt critiques often resembled something one would hear from a person with a clipboard and whistle.

Rhule’s first season was a challenge. They lost to FBS Independent Liberty. A mid-October trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma resulted in a 43-point loss.

But there were also bright spots to those paying attention. The Bears lost to then-#3 Oklahoma by eight points and then-#23 Oklahoma by just two. Five other games were decided by two touchdowns or less.

As cliche as the phrase, “Trust The Process” has become over the years, it was true in Rhule’s case.

The Bears went 7-6 the following season, winning the Texas Bowl in Houston and then reached the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans during the 2019 season.

“He recruited well and demanded excellence from us,” McGuire said.

Rhule accepted the position in Carolina, but McGuire was hopeful their paths would cross again.

McGuire also had a strong relationship with Rhule’s successor, Aranda, who put McGuire on scholarship and named him a team captain.

“That gave me so much confidence,” McGuire said.

The team struggled last season, but McGuire is fully confident in Aranda’s ability to succeed and also tipped his hat to departed offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, who he described as a “player’s coach.”

Meanwhile, last December, McGuire had his Baylor degree in hand, and he was just another face in the crowd enjoying a Cedar Hill Longhorn Playoff Run.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, that meant December and January, instead of November and December, but he showed up at the games against Rockwall Heath, Denton Guyer and Katy.

Joey was the first coach in the McGuire Family, but McGuire said the coaches he’s been around – from SMU special teams coordinator Kenny Perry to Baylor linebackers coach Mike Siravo and many others – have become like family.

So as an NFL staffer at age 22, it may be easy to project McGuire’s trajectory to a head coach in the NFL or a major college program.

But McGuire isn’t thinking that far ahead. Instead, he’s leaning on a mantra that Rhule learned from his mentor, Super Bowl champion coach Tom Coughlin – “Be Where Your Feet Are.”

Regardless of where McGuire’s feet are, they will always honor Texas.

“I’m a cowboy boot-wearing dude,” McGuire said. “I got that from both of my grandpas.”

Both of those grandpas – along with both grandmas – and many other proud McGuires will be in the stands at AT&T Stadium when McGuire coaches against the hometown Cowboys this season.

It’s a familiar facility. McGuire played a high school game there and was also part of a Big 12 Championship Game there in 2019.

He’ll only be 20 miles away from the place it all started, his beloved Cedar Hill.

“It’s an amazing family atmosphere where every teacher has a smile on their face,” McGuire said.