The more I read and learn about the coaching staff Mike Leach is assembling, the more excited I am. There's plenty of information available about the four reported hires from this morning, and all of it is positive. Each coach holds a strong connection to Leach and the staff he's assembled looks to be, on the surface, one that will hit recruiting hard. And one such coach, perhaps an underrated one, is Clay McGuire.
When Leach showed up to Texas Tech, he didn't have a full recruiting class waiting for him. In fact, he had one player committed, and he wasn't too sure about the kid. He was undersized, didn't jump out on film and Leach wasn't sure how he fit into what his staff wanted to build at Tech. But they kept the kid around anyway.
In his book, Leach writes about trying to replace the kid in the lineup and never succeeding. Each year, he'd try to throw someone better at him, and the wily athlete would rise to the challenge. Leach called the young man smart, instinctive and just a flat-out player. This kid, who was kept around because he was already in the recruiting class -- a class of one at the time -- was as persistent as they came, and worked hard for everything.
The kid was Clay McGuire and he went on to become an assistant on Leach's staff at Texas Tech before moving on to East Carolina after everything blew up in Lubbock. McGuire will now join the Washington State staff, where he'll work with the offensive line and in recruiting.
The story above, as told by Leach, says a lot about McGuire and his motivation. Despite not quite fitting into the mold of anything in Leach's system, McGuire stuck at Texas Tech, doing so thanks to a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed. If this sounds like the makeup of a strong recruiter, you'd be right.
McGuire's persistence has paid huge dividends in the past, especially at Texas Tech, where he battled with some of the "old money" schools -- Texas, Oklahoma -- for recruits. Red Raiders fans will tell you tales of McGuire's recruiting coups and his ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Leach himself called McGuire the best recruiter he had at Tech (via Bruce Feldman).
Just looking at McGuire's background -- mostly work coaching running backs -- may make you wonder how well he'll do with an offensive line. But just watch. If McGuire's past is any indication, he'll be a key part of Leach's staff, both in positional work and on the recruiting trail.
Edit: A hilarious story about McGuire's start at Texas Tech, as special teams coordinator.
McGuire experienced an interesting first season as, midway through, Matt Williams joined the kicking unit after winning an in-game promotion during the Massachusetts game. Williams perfectly hit a 30-yard field goal to win a year's free rent at a local apartment complex, but opted to join the Red Raiders when former head coach Mike Leach summoned the Weatherford, Texas native after the kick and invited him to join the team.
Williams proved to be one of the bright spots in McGuire's first season, connecting on all 33 of his PAT attempts. He joined newcomer Donnie Carona as the team's two primary kickers.