Midday on Sunday, rumors started circling that Arkansas WR coach Justin Stepp has taken the same job at the University of South Carolina. Stepp spent most of his life in the state so going home after recently starting a family makes sense. Pittman didn't waste any time as names of possible replacements started flying in. A name that has stood out as the favorite is Colorado State WR coach Kenny Guiton. When this name first surfaced, I will admit, that I had to do some research. It wasn't too long ago that Coach Gution was wearing pads himself as a QB for Ohio State, where he completed 89 of 134 passes for 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 3 seasons with the Buckeyes. After a stint in the NFL and Arena football, Guiton joined the coaching ranks as a GA at Houston in 2015. He has since coached at Texas, a return to Houston under OC Kendal Briles, La Tech, and Colorado State; spending no more than two seasons at one school. However, 247 Sports did name him to the top 30 assistants under 30 in the country.
The one things that most Arkansas fans are concerned with in replacing Stepp is that he was one of the nations top recruiters. The main problem with Coach Guiton is that he hasn't stayed at one school long enough to see his recruiting impact. In 2017, while Guiton was coaching WR at Texas, they signed 3 wideouts, all of them 4 stars. At Houston, where Kenny spent the 2018 season, the Cougars only signed one wide receiver out of high school , but also landed a transfer from TCU. Neither of those receivers have really put up any stats for Houston. In his lone class at Louisiana Tech, they only signed one Wideout in Tennessee transfer Jerrod Means, a former 3 star. This years class at CSU also only features one WR in 3 star Damir Abdullah. Coach Guiton hasn't really made any splash signings, but he hasn't been at any school that put him in a spot to land big recruits besides Texas, where he did pretty well. All in all, I think it's still a little early in his career to label his recruiting skills, but I'm not necessarily impressed.
Recruiting is obviously important, but developing the talent you have is what makes a WR coach his money. And luckily, barring any transfers (knock on wood), Guiton would inherit an absolutely stacked receiver room. In 2017, all four of the Longhorns top wideouts had at least 31 receptions, with 3 of the 4 getting over 400 yards, including 54 catches for 765 yards by Collin Johnson. The one guy who didn't have 400 yards, Armanti Freeman, lead the team with 4 touchdowns. In 2018, with Kendal Briles calling plays, Houston had one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. The cougars saw an increase of 30 passing yards a game and Guiton also got his first 1000 yard receiver in Marquez Stevenson. Guiton also got significant contributions from Courtney Lark, Keith Corbin and Bryson Smith. in 2019, La Tech had very even production from their wideouts, however they were good in 2018 as well. 6 receivers caught at least 30 passes, all going for over 300 yards and all catching at least one touchdown on the season. Obviously, 2020 was a crazy season, but CSU had two receivers with 20+ catches and 300+ yards in just 4 games.
All in all, I think Guiton is a good hire and the reaction from more informed fans tells me that he is, but he is still young and definitely still has some stuff to prove. Although his stays were short, the passing game has improved at every school he has even to, and his relationship with Kendal Briles is obviously a huge plus. I'm excited to welcome Coach to Fayetteville and see what he and the rest of the staff can do.