On Wednesday afternoon, Joey McGuire and the rest of his team welcomed a new member to the team. The Texas Tech football program has announced the hiring of Justin “Juice” Johnson to be its assistant coach, offensive passing games coordinator and wide receivers coach. Johnson replaces Emmett Jones, who left for Oklahoma.
Johnson has been Baylor’s running backs coach for the past three seasons, making him a familiar face for 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. Last season, the Bears finished second in the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns, with first-year standout Richard Reese scoring 14 of them, including a 148-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Red Raiders.
Prior to Baylor, Johnson coached running backs in Houston. While the team finished 4-8 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 coach.
His first coaching gig came in Houston in 2012 when the team hired him as a quality control assistant. He then moved 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 job as a wide receivers coach. There he mentored players like Steven Sims Jr. and Kwamie Lassiter II.
With Johnson signed by Tech to be their receivers coach, he’s getting back to his roots. Johnson played receiver for Houston from 2008 to 2011. During his senior season, he finished with 87 receptions for 1,229 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also named an All-Conference USA selection.
Although Jones was considered a good receivers coach, spending time on the Kliff Kingsbury and McGuire teams, in 2022 the Red Raiders failed to have a 1,000-yard receiver for the fourth consecutive year. The last Red Raider to reach that milestone was Antoine Wesley in 2018.
While the quarterbacks’ revolving door was the main reason the offense was inconsistent last season, the receiving corps failed to establish a solid player. One of the biggest problems of this group was to achieve separation in the field, which limited the explosion of the attack. In fact, the team only had three catches for 50+ 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 return for their senior seasons. JJ Sparkman, Brady Boyd and Nehemiah Martinez will all be juniors next year and the team just added Deandrae McCray, an Austin Peay transfer. The program also landed three receivers at the start of National Signing Day.
Overall, Johnson should prove to be a solid fit for McGuire’s team. The familiarity is there and he knows what to look for as a former player. The Red Raiders have always been known for producing elite receivers, and now Johnson could try that in 2023.