Rams’ Sean McVay: Portrait of an up-and-coming coach

Sean McVay becomes the youngest coach in NFL history at age 30.
(David Richard / Associated Press)

New Rams Coach Sean McVay played college football at Miami (Ohio), which is so prolific at developing coaches — Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian and John Harbaugh among others — it is known as the ‘’Cradle of Coaches.”

McVay, 30, might be mistaken for a coach coming straight out of the bassinet.

But McVay, who became the youngest head coach in NFL history when he was hired Thursday, has earned a reputation for detail, presence, organization and quarterback whispering while zooming through pro football’s coaching ranks.

Now, after three seasons as the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator, he takes over a Rams team that produced the NFL’s worst offense two years in a row.


The Rams believe McVay can lift quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, as he did Kirk Cousins, Washington’s fourth-round draft pick in 2012 who has developed into one of the NFL’s top passers.

Cousins also is a believer in McVay.

“Really happy for Sean McVay!” Cousins tweeted after the Rams announced the hire.

In Washington, McVay also got “buy-in” and production from receiver DeSean Jackson, who will be a free agent.


“Like I told you last time I saw You before Exit Meetings You the Man Now !! Congrats To a young Talented Coach Sean McVay,” Jackson wrote on Instagram.

Alan Chadwick, McVay’s high school coach, said talent, competitiveness and football intellect were “probably something he inherited in his DNA.”

McVay’s grandfather, John, also played at Miami and played and coached in the NFL before becoming a San Francisco 49ers executive who helped put together five Super Bowl winners. His uncle, John McVay Jr., also played at Miami, and his father, Tim, played at Indiana.

McVay’s knack for nurturing quarterbacks is easy to trace: He starred at the position in high school in Georgia before switching to receiver in college.


At Marist High, McVay ran the triple option and helped lead his team to a state title.

“He was such a gifted athlete from an explosion, quickness and speed factor,” said Chadwick, who has coached at Marist for 41 years, the last 32 as head coach. “He was constantly making big plays, extending plays and making a lot of things out of things that just fell apart.”

McVay rushed for more than 1,000 yards and passed for more than 1,000 in each of his last two seasons.

Chadwick said McVay’s NFL pedigree showed up even then: He took his offensive linemen out to a nice dinner before a playoff game.


“‘You don’t do that kind of thing unless you’ve been there and been around programs that do that,” Chadwick said.

On one occasion, Chadwick said he went out of his way to let McVay know he was paying attention after the quarterback made a rare mistake.

“I was just running him up one side and down the other for about five minutes,” Chadwick said, laughing. “I turned around and walked away and then turned around and did it again. Just one of those things that says you expect him to be better.

“He walks back to where the trainers are and he just turned to the doctors who had been watching and listening. He says, ‘That’s OK, he thinks I’m hard of hearing.’ ”



Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry discuss the Los Angeles Rams hiring Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay as their new head coach.

As a Miami assistant, Shane Montgomery recruited McVay to play receiver. Montgomery, who became head coach near the end of the 2004 season, remembers an easy transition for an intelligent player with quarterback experience.

“They put a lot on him in high school,” said Montgomery, now offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Youngstown State. “He was such a great quarterback, he knew where the receivers should be.”

After redshirting, McVay’s freshman season was cut short because of injury. He caught 38 passes over the next two seasons.


McVay had one more year of eligibility but decided instead to pursue coaching.

“Up until then, he hadn’t said a lot about it,” Montgomery recalled.

McVay joined Jon Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff in 2008 as an offensive assistant.

When Gruden was fired, McVay became the receivers coach for the United Football League’s Florida Tuskers, working under former Rams coach Jim Haslett and with several other experienced coaches.


Receiver Dominique Thompson, who played in college at William & Mary, had NFL stints with the Rams and the Carolina Panthers before joining the Tuskers for training camp.

When he first met McVay, he thought he was a fellow player, not a coach.

“But working with him, you could see he was very high energy and that he definitely knew his stuff,” Thompson said. “He was wise beyond his years.”

McVay returned to the NFL the following year as Washington’s assistant tight ends coach, and then became the tight ends coach for the next three seasons before he was promoted to offensive coordinator.


In 2014, Washington was 13th in the NFL in total offense. After a drop to 17th in 2015, they jumped to third this season.

Now McVay moves from working with the offense to overseeing the entire team.

His former coaches said he would have no problem commanding the room.

“He’s got the total package,” Chadwick said. “Intelligence, knowledge, experience and the personality to work with people.”


Montgomery pointed to the role models McVay has worked with during his coaching career, including Jon and Jay Gruden and Mike Shanahan.

“You can never predict that someone can have a chance to be an NFL head coach at age 30,” Montgomery said. ‘If there’s someone who can do it, it’s a guy like him that’s very well-respected, a good communicator and very sharp.”

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein