Kanavis McGhee is in his second season as defensive line coach and assistant special teams coach at Colorado, as he was hired in the second wave of assistants on December 14, 2010 on new CU head coach Jon Embree's first staff.
This is McGhee's first major college coaching position. He did not coach in 2010, his first season not on the sidelines in 13 years, but instead taught college courses in business at Houston's Challenge Early College High School.
McGhee, 43, brought to the Buffaloes great recruiting and life-long connections to the talent-rich Houston area.
While McGhee's college coaching resume prior to returning to his alma mater was limited to one year at Gannon (Pa.) University, where he coached the linebackers in 2008, he spent two seasons in NFL Europe as a defensive assistant with the Amsterdam Admirals (2006-07). He was participating in a program that was a collaboration between the NFL Players Association and NFL Player Development. That followed 10 seasons coaching in the Houston-area high school ranks.
He began his coaching career at Wheatley High School, his prep alma mater, where he spent three years (1997-99) coaching the defensive line, including the last two as defensive coordinator. He then moved on to Madison High, where he coached for five seasons (2000-04), the first as defensive line coach and the last four as defensive coordinator. In 2005, he was the head coach at Ross Shaw Sterling High, and after being away for three years in Europe and at Gannon, he returned to the area in 2009 and was an assistant at Bellaire High.
He lettered four seasons at outside linebacker for the Buffaloes (1987-90), becoming just the fourth player at the time to earn first-team all-league honors three different years (only seven have now accomplished it). He also was an All-American three different seasons, highlighted by first-team recognition as a junior; he garnered second-team honors as a sophomore in 1988 and honorable mention accolades as a senior in 1990, when he helped lead Colorado to the consensus national championship. The Buffs also won two Big 8 Conference championships in his tenure (1989, 1990).
As a senior, he was a candidate for the Butkus and Lombardi awards after being one of four finalists for the Lombardi as a junior in 1989. In 41 career games, he was in on 297 tackles (179 solo) and recorded 15 quarterback sacks, sixth on CU's all-time lists for both at the time, along with 38 tackles for loss, the third-most at that juncture in school history. A broken right ankle kept him out of the better part of the last two games of his sophomore season, when he had a career-best 102 tackles, 11 for losses. He had 94 tackles, 14 for losses, with 17 quarterback pressures as a senior.
He played five seasons in the National Football League with three teams, the first three with the New York Giants, who drafted him in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft (55th player selected overall). After sustaining an injury in his third season with the Giants, he went on to play with Cincinnati (1994) and Houston (1995) before retiring from the league after playing in 50 games over those five seasons.
Following his time in pro football, he returned to Boulder, earning his degree in Business Administration from CU in 1995.
He was born October 4, 1968 in Houston. He graduated from Houston's Wheatley High School in 1987, where he earned first-team all-district honors his senior year when he had 102 tackles, 16 quarterback sacks and six fumble recoveries. He had 88 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior and also played tight end, catching 23 passes for over 200 yards and eight touchdowns. He also played basketball and participated in track and field.
RECORD: He has coached in 13 Division I-A (FBS) games in his career, owing a 3-10 record (all at Colorado).