New WRs coach: Meet Phil McGeoghan
You probably hadn't heard his name before Wednesday night, when the 29-year-old was announced as USF's new receivers coach. My memory is an odd thing, and even though McGeoghan barely played in a brief NFL career, I distinctly remembered having a Phil McGeoghan football card at some point. Sure enough, he's in the 2002 Pacific set -- card #136. I've gotten rid of a ton of cards and think I don't have that one anymore, but I'll try to track one down in the next few days.
Got to talk with McGeoghan on Wednesday night, and you get a sense that he was really moved by six months he spent with Mike Canales in the summer of 2003, trying to make the New York Jets' roster when Canales was his receivers coach. McGeoghan was cut in late August, but found a mentor in Canales and has kept in touch with him ever since. USF coach Jim Leavitt said he will be an extension of Canales as receivers coach, and he has much the same energy, demeanor and positivity you find in Canales. "He and I are a lot alike," Canales said. "The biggest thing I see in him is that he's very passionate."
-- If you want a sense of how proud McGeoghan is, check out this story from his hometown paper in Massachusetts. The headline calls him "Former Agawam standout," and calls him "one of the best receivers the region has ever produced." Another good clip is this 2001 story from the New York Times, detailing his long path to trying to make the Jets as an undrafted rookie. His first college, Boston University, folded its football program after his freshman season, but he transferred to Maine and had a stellar three years there.
-- I don't want to dwell on this, because he wasn't hired because of his NFL experience, but it's a considerable stretch to say he "played in the NFL for four seasons." McGeoghan spent four years on and off NFL rosters, and was limited by several injuries, but in the end, he played in only two games, as a rookie with Denver in 2001, contributing on special teams against the Redskins and Dolphins.
He missed the 2002 season after injuring his shoulder in NFL Europe, where he had 15 catches for 178 yards and three touchdowns in four games. After the Jets' preseason cut in 2003, he spent the final week of that season on the Saints' roster, and was waived with an injury settlement in August 2004.
To that end, he's a lot like Bulls offensive line coach Mike Simmonds, who also is listed by USF as playing four seasons in the NFL, but because of injuries, was limited to five career games, all starts with the 1989 Bucs. He spent the previous two seasons on injured reserve, and missed the rest of '89 with a hyperextended elbow and dislocated kneecap. He signed with San Diego in 1990, but never played there. Again, regardless of how many games he played, he can call himself a former NFL player, and there is a respect that comes with that, from college players and high school recruits.
-- Canales and Leavitt both feel his NFL exposure helped shape a sharp offensive mind. Consider some of the offensive coaches he worked with: Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Fred Biletnikoff, Paul Hackett. By working with four different NFL teams, he showed an ability to pick up intricate offenses quickly -- mostly West Coast systems, but Leavitt said his work as offensive coordinator at the Naval Academy Prep School (NAPS) last fall even gave him experience running the option.
-- And yes, McGeoghan has one year of college football coaching experience, at Maine in 2007. He was listed as an "offensive assistant," and while he worked with Maine's receivers and tight ends, the coaching staff had another assistant devoted full-time to receivers. So he's certainly inexperienced, but really no more so on the college level than Simmonds and USF tight ends coach Larry Scott, who each had one year as a graduate assistant at USF to show for their college coaching careers when they were hired. Again, they weren't hired for their college resumes, as much as the impression they left on USF's coaches in a short but memorable amount of interaction.
-- From the Small World Department: The first preseason game that McGeoghan played under Canales with the Jets was ... at Raymond James Stadium, against the Bucs. He caught a 6-yard pass, one of two he'd catch that preseason. The third quarterback in for the Jets in that game? Former USF star Marquel Blackwell.
-- McGeoghan visited USF during NAPS' bye week this fall and spent time with the Bulls' receivers before and after USF's home win against Connecticut. He made a quick bond with senior Taurus Johnson, and ended up helping him get into the East-West Shrine Game in Houston. When Johnson went to the NFL Combine last week, McGeoghan was there with him for support. "His kids are my kids. As a coach, you have to be selfless," McGeoghan said of his connection to Canales' receivers.
-- Beyond his work last fall at NAPS, McGeoghan has no military background, though both of his grandfathers served in World War II. His grandmother moved to Hawaii from the Philippines, and was there with his grandfather when Pearl Harbor was bombed. McGeoghan was born in Springfield, Mass., and is the oldest of seven children. "I've always been teaching," he said. Speaking of younger brothers, remember this name: Robert McGeoghan, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound receiver at Agawam, earned first-team all-area honors as a junior last fall after catching 25 passes for 441 yards and seven touchdowns. And yes, that all-area team has six receivers on its first-team offense.
-- His previous recruiting experience came during his season at Maine, so he's understandably excited about climate helping him a little more at USF. "It's 5 degrees there on a good day," he said of Maine's campus. "Getting someone to come to Tampa should be a little easier that way." McGeoghan said he enjoyed recruiting -- his degree is in marketing, so he got into the idea of promoting a school, of being persuasive in convincing a high school athlete his future should be in Orono, Maine, population 9,112.
-- And yes, his athleticism apparently carries over to softball. Here's a photo of him with Patriots running back Kevin Faulk from a Boston charity celebrity softball game, where he apparently crushed the event's first-ever home run to clear the outfield fence, a 320-foot shot. It's worth noting here that Canales was the softball coach at Snow College for seven years (while also coaching football) in his early days.
OK, now back to the wild, ever-twisting coaching search already in progress ...