A lot of people 10 years out of college are just starting to make a mark in their chosen field. Miami graduate Sean McVay is one step away from the very top.
Come Sunday, he will be the youngest NFL coach ever to lead a team to the Super Bowl.
McVay, who graduated in 2008, will coach the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
In the decade since he left Oxford, McVay has raced up the football coaching ladder. He was hired as an assistant wide receivers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year out of college. He moved to assistant tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins in 2010, and worked his way up in that organization to become offensive coordinator in 2014. In January 2017, he was hired as head coach of the Rams. At just under 31 years old, he was the youngest head coach in NFL history.
To take the next step and win the Super Bowl, McVay will have to outsmart an old opponent and beat the team that has dominated professional football since he was college player.
Julian Edelman, at wide receiver, an important part of the Patriot offense, was quarterback for the Kent State Golden Flashes during his college days, playing against the RedHawks during McVay’s time at Miami.
Both of McVay’s and Edelman’s two collegiate run-ins were decided by one score, but the series was split. A 2-point loss favored the Golden Flashes in 2006 but a 7-point win favored the RedHawks the following year.
McVay never scored a collegiate touchdown, but he did haul in a 2-point pass in a 2006 skirmish with Kent State. McVay finished his career at Miami with 39 receptions for 312 yards and nine rushing attempts for 29 yards.
To former college teammate Jake Richardson, Miami’s punter who played with McVay from 2005 to 2007, McVay’s work ethic is what stood out about the future NFL championship coach.
“He was always one to lead by example,” said Richardson, who now works as sports activities director for Oxford’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “The way he carried himself, his focus on the field and his passion for the game made him such a great competitor even at only 18, 19 years old.”
Richardson remembers McVay having impeccable confidence and intelligence that “never carried over into arrogance. He was always well respected and respectful of others and just an outstanding teammate.” he said.
Richardson also remembered the games involving Edelman and Kent State. “He [Edelman] was an athlete with the ball in his hand, very quick and could make those big runs,” Richardson said. This Sunday will be the third Super Bowl Edelman has played in with the Patriots.
Also on McVay’s coaching staff for this Sunday’s matchup are three other Miami alumni, Aaron Kromer ’90, Chris Shula ’09 and Dustin Woods ’09. Kromer serves as the Rams run game coordinator, Shula is in his second season as an assistant linebackers coach and Woods is in his first year with the Rams as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
McVay had a limited 2005 freshman season at Miami. The RedHawks went 7-4 and he only managed 8 yards from scrimmage through 11 games. However, the following year, McVay made himself known, ending the 2-10 season as the team’s third leading receiver with 20 receptions for 198 yards.
In McVay’s final season with the RedHawks in 2007, he failed to post improvements in all categories, posting 18 receptions for 108 yards and an additional 23 yards on three rushing attempts.
But the leadership qualities Richardson remembers in his old teammate have been on full display in McVay’s coaching career. Since taking over the Rams, McVay has managed a 26-8 record in the regular season and a 2-1 post-season record.