LOGAN, Utah -
Practice had just wrapped for the day and the players were all gathered around head coach Matt Wells.
Soon thereafter, a few police officers approached the group and senior wide receiver Connor McGuire heard his name called.
“The first thing that popped in my head was that my car was getting towed,” McGuire said. “My summer pass had expired a couple of days earlier and I noticed it earlier that day, and I was like, ‘I better get that fixed.’ Then, I saw cops roll up and at first I didn’t think it was me, and then they called my name to go up. I was like, ‘Really? It’s only been two days and you’re going to take my car.’”
But that wasn’t the reason for the officers’ presence on that particular day of fall camp. They were there to deliver a different message – one that would bring a huge smile to McGuire’s face.
“They said they had evidence of me being put on scholarship,” McGuire said with a laugh. “Everyone freaked out and dog-piled on us. It was a pretty cool experience and something I will never forget.”
Three other Aggies were awarded scholarships that day – senior long snapper Emmett Odegard, sophomore placekicker Dominik Eberle and sophomore linebacker Mason Gajkowski.
“Always one of the better days of being a head coach is when you’re able to reward a non-scholarship kid a full scholarship,” said Utah State head coach Matt Wells. “The ability to go to school on a scholarship is a tremendous honor and a blessing for that young man, but for his family, too, in terms of finances. And, probably the most rewarding (thing) for that man is the recognition in front of his peers and his teammates, and the reaction from them is really priceless.”
Being put on scholarship was the culmination of a lot of hard work for McGuire, who grew up in Roy, Utah, a big fan of the Aggies.
“I’ve always cheered them on and always wanted to be an Aggie, because I always knew they were the underdog and that’s kind of how it has been for me in my life,” McGuire said.
Despite being in the program since 2015, McGuire had not seen any playing time until the fourth quarter of the Idaho State game on Sept. 7, a 51-13 victory for the Aggies on Merlin Field at Maverik Stadium.
“It was amazing,” said McGuire, who also appeared in Utah State’s 40-24 win over in-state rival BYU on Sept. 29. “Even though it was the end of the game and we called all run plays, it was still awesome to be out there under the lights. I’ve always been an Aggie fan and running out of the tunnel and getting on the field for some live snaps, it was amazing.
“It meant everything to me, really. I cannot even describe how much it meant to me and my family. My family came and watched and just to see their faces afterward and how excited they were, even though I only played 10 snaps, it was awesome.”
Prior to that Thursday night contest, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound receiver had not played in a game since 2014, when he was a sophomore at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. McGuire finished that year with 20 receptions for 350 yards and one touchdown, a 41-yarder against Glendale Community College in the Western States Football League Championships tournament.
With the help of McGuire, Snow College ended 2014 with an overall record of 8-2 and No. 8 national ranking.
However, the chances of McGuire continuing his football career seemed bleak.
“I didn’t really get many looks coming out of Snow, so it was another letdown and I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to continue,” McGuire said. “I had a buddy from Snow come here. He mentioned my name to coach (Luke) Wells and showed him my film. They got the coaching staff together and they liked what they saw, so I was able to get a spot on the team that way.”
Jovon Bouknight, who coaches the outside receivers, loves having McGuire in his room.
“He is a wonderful individual and is probably one of the smartest, if not the smartest, kids in the room,” Bouknight said. “He came to us on an academic scholarship, so that kind of speaks of the value of what kind of character and how smart he is. He is a wonderful kid who busts his tail all the time and gives 100 percent every time we are out at practice; he loves to practice.
“With him walking on, it shows the passion and the dedication he has for the team. He got in and played for us a little bit against Idaho State, but I’m excited to see his role improve and increase, especially special teams-wise as we continue throughout the rest of the season.”
McGuire redshirted the 2015 season at Utah State and did not see any action as a junior in 2016.
Prior to enrolling at Snow College and after a stellar prep career at Roy High School, McGuire was unsure if he was going to play baseball or football at the next level.
During his time with the Royals, McGuire was a three-year letterwinner on the football team. He led Roy HS in receiving during his junior and senior campaigns. The son of Ryan and Tracey McGuire ended his prep career with 1,050 yards receiving and eight touchdowns, to go along with a pair of rushing touchdowns.
He also played basketball and starred on the diamond for Roy HS, earning all-Region 5 honors.
“I really didn’t get any looks from colleges,” McGuire recalled. “I was trying to decide whether or not to be done or if I should try and play baseball down at Dixie. I ended up going to a walk-on tryout at Snow College and I made the team.
“A couple of players in front of me went down with injuries and things went right for me. I ended up seeing the field a lot and I made some good plays, and ended up doing pretty well there as a freshman. Then, I was put on scholarship and started my sophomore year and that season went well, too.”
Just like he did at Snow and at Roy HS before that, McGuire gives everything he has to the Utah State program.
“I’ve just tried to work my hardest and do everything I could do to get better and help this team, whether it be pushing guys in the weight room or getting guys to do extra stuff out on the field,” McGuire said. “I’ve been working hard and it showed during fall camp when I was put on scholarship, which was a total surprise to me.”
Soon afterward, McGuire injured his shoulder, which was just another hurdle he had to overcome – something he is all too familiar with, but something he does not shy away from.
“That was really hard because I put in a lot of extra time this summer and it was paying off for me,” he said.
How does McGuire want Aggie fans to remember him by?
“As a hard worker and a guy that will do anything to get better and help his teammates get better,” McGuire said.
Outside of football, McGuire enjoys spending time in the outdoors, whether he is fishing, hunting or hiking.
McGuire is majoring in human movement science with an emphasis in PE teaching. He is on track to graduate in May of 2018. McGuire prides himself on his schoolwork.
“I’m kind of a nerd, I guess,” he said. “I like being on top of my schoolwork, and people probably know that by my GPA. It’s a 3.9, but I tend to stress out until I get it done.”
Added Bouknight: “He is a no-maintenance type of guy. He’s a guy that you want more in your group to follow as he leads by example. He’s just the epitome of a great player and a wonderful stand-up student-athlete.”
Once his Aggie football career is over, what is next for McGuire?
“I’m trying to figure out if I can get on as a GA with (head strength and conditioning) coach Dave Scholz,” McGuire said. “But, if that doesn’t work out, then I’m getting a degree in teaching, so I’ll probably be a teacher and a football coach somewhere in Utah.”
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