Wednesday afternoon Joey McGuire and the rest of his staff welcomed a new member to the team. The Texas Tech football program announced the hiring of Justin “Juice” Johnson to be their assistant head coach, offensive passing game coordinator, and wide receivers coach. Johnson replaces Emmett Jones who left for Oklahoma.
Johnson has been the running backs coach for Baylor for the past three seasons, making him a familiar face to McGuire. During his tenure there, the Bears became a dominant rushing team in the Big 12 Conference. In 2021, Abram Smith led the conference in rushing during the team’s run to the Sugar Bowl. This past season the Bears finished second in the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns with standout freshman Richard Reese scoring 14 of them including a 148-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Red Raiders.
Before Baylor, Johnson coached the running backs at Houston. While the team finished with a 4-8 record that season, Kyle Porter and Patrick Carr combined for 995 yards on the ground with seven touchdowns. The 2019 season was his first year as a running backs position coach.
His first coaching gig came at Houston in 2012 when the team hired him as a quality control assistant. He then moved on to Texas A&M to be a graduate assistant before landing at Kansas as an offensive analyst. In 2018, the Jayhawks gave Johnson his first position job as their wide receivers coach. There he mentored players such as Steven Sims Jr. and Kwamie Lassiter II.
With Johnson hired by Tech to be their receivers coach, he is going back to his roots. Johnson played receiver at Houston from 2008 to 2011. During his senior season he finished with 87 catches for 1,229 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also named an All-Conference USA selection.
While Jones was regarded as a good receivers coach, spending time on both Kliff Kingsbury’s and McGuire’s staffs, in 2022 the Red Raiders failed to have a 1,000-yard receiver for the fourth year in a row. The last Red Raider to reach that mark was Antoine Wesley in 2018.
While the revolving door of quarterbacks was a major reason the offense was inconsistent this past season, the receiving corps failed to establish a firm go-to player. One of the biggest issues this group had was getting separation downfield, which limited the explosiveness of the offense. In fact, the team only had three receptions of 50-plus yards.
While Johnson will have some work to do with this group when he arrives, several key contributors are returning. Jerand Bradley is returning as a sophomore after leading the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. Myles Price, Loic Fouonji, and Trey Cleveland will all return for their senior seasons. J.J. Sparkman, Brady Boyd, and Nehemiah Martinez will be juniors next year and the team just added Deandrae McCray, a transfer from Austin Peay. The program also landed three receivers on early National Signing Day.
Overall Johnson should prove to be a solid fit for McGuire’s staff. The familiarity is there and he knows what to look for as a former wideout. The Red Raiders have always been known for producing elite receivers and now Johnson gets to try his hand at it in 2023.