Last summer, Bryan Kegans thought he had found his dream job. Turns out, the longtime Guyer assistant actually was leaving it.
After a one-year stay at the University of Texas as an assistant strength and conditioning coach, Kegans is back at Guyer, where he began his high school coaching career in 2007 and stayed until 2013.
“You spend a lot of time working really hard to get a job opportunity like that and getting there, but it kind of became reality that I was already at the place I wanted to be,” Kegans said. “You really get to work with kids on a whole other level [in high school]. That’s why I’m in the business — working with kids and training them, not just to put my name out there so people can think I’m big and important.”
Kegans declined an offer to become the strength and conditioning first assistant at Washington State under his former college head coach, Mike Leach, to return to Guyer, where he served as the offensive tackles coach before becoming exclusively a strength and conditioning coach in 2011.
Kegans likely would have been out of a job in Austin, as Charlie Strong replaced Mack Brown as Texas head coach this month and brought his own strength and conditioning coach from Louisville, but the former Texas Tech offensive lineman said he had thought about returning to the high school ranks prior to Brown’s departure.
The question was where he would fit back on Guyer’s staff, as Kyle Keese had been promoted to head strength and conditioning coach and the offensive line staff was filled out.
When defensive line coach Brian Valenzuela left to pursue business ventures, that spot was open and Kegans pounced on it.
Actually, defensive coordinator Derek Ramsey did it for him, even though Kegans has no prior experience coaching defense.
“Coach Ramsey’s roots are with the defensive line, so I think he mentored Valenzuela from the start to end, and Brian did one of the best jobs in the state,” Guyer head coach John Walsh said. “When [Valenzuela] left, Ramsey was in my office not 15 seconds later saying, ‘I want Kegans.’ He’s a football coach. He’s a Guyer Wildcat. Coach Ramsey will get him up to speed, and he’ll do a fantastic job.”
Of all the jobs for Kegans to land on Guyer’s staff, he was fortunate to inherit a defensive line full of returning stars from back-to-back Class 4A Division I state championship squads.
Guyer has been known for its ability to run the ball and stop the run, partly because of the strength program Kegans helped install at the school. Now, he’ll get to sharpen that knife from a more hands-on standpoint. He admitted he’ll be learning on the fly from a bunch of experienced players.
Guyer returns three of its four starting defensive linemen as the program prepares to make the jump back up to the state’s largest classification in the new Class 6A. Carl Thompson, Derek Watson and Isiah Correa return from last year’s starting lineup. Those three combined for 182 tackles, 92 stops behind the line and 20 sacks last season.
“It’s fortunate for me because I get to work with high-level kids, and it also helps because those are high-level kids that know their job already,” Kegans said. “It helps me when I’m in the learning process learning the position when I have guys who are already pretty dang good at what they do instead of having to develop young guys who have no experience.”
Kegans will help with the strength and conditioning program and return Guyer to an exclusive group of high school programs that can claim two coaches on staff certified as specialists by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and by USA Weightlifting.
“People ask me all the time what the key to our success is, and it’s strength and conditioning,” Walsh said. “The way we go about our business on a day-to-day basis is second to none, and it starts with Kyle Keese and Bryan Kegans. We’re extremely fortunate.”
Kegans considers himself fortunate to be returning to Guyer, as he was considering returning to the high school ranks even if nothing was open at Guyer. He said it was the high school kids that brought him back from the college football world.
“The one thing I’m taking from my experience is the workplace isn’t nearly as important as the work environment,” Kegans said. “Working at a place that’s successful and a great environment of kids that work their tail off every day as compared to a place that wasn’t like that is huge. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if it’s the University of Texas or John H. Guyer High School — you’re better off at a place with kids coming through the door with great energy every day.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.