In Gunter Brewer’s vernacular, freak is both an acronym and adjective.
It stands for Fresh Receiver Exciting All Crowds — Brewer spells the last word with a K. Maryland football’s receiver coach has instilled that phrase into all the pass catchers he’s coached during his nearly 40-year football career.
The word also describes the flare Brewer wants his receivers to play with. The Terps receivers aim to play like freaks, and each one has a unique definition for the term. Kaden Prather said a freak makes the catches most receivers can’t. To Tyrese Chambers, the word means consistency. Jeshaun Jones said a freak “just makes plays.”
Maryland’s wideouts concur on Brewer’s impact. He provides the group’s energy during the highs and lows of a draining season and is the steady force behind the Terps’ overpowering aerial attack.
“With coach Brewer’s experience and his personality, it’s hard not to want to play for that man,” Prather said.
Rows of black cushioned seats line the wide receiver meeting room where Brewer and the Terps’ wideouts gather each day to study film and plan for their next opponent. A video screen covers one wall, while photos of former Maryland greats adorn the entrance.
Once each week, the smell of pizza and chicken wings engulfs the space.
Brewer buys Ledo Pizza for Maryland’s receivers to allow them to gather outside of their mandatory practice schedule and loosen up. They typically watch that afternoon’s practice film to dissect what went well and what didn’t in a “chill setting,” Jones said.
It’s not a typical film study session. Rather than rapidly going through plays, Brewer slows down to let players interject with advice to their teammates. There’s no time restraint like most meetings: Brewer and players don’t leave until everyone’s satisfied with the progress made — and the food is gone.
“It’s just a bunch of guys talking ball,” Jones said.
Brewer came to Maryland two years ago, but Terps coach Michael Locksley first tried to hire him in 2019. When Brewer became available after a short stint at Louisville, Locksley finally found success. Before then, Brewer worked with the Philadelphia Eagles and other colleges, including Marshall during Randy Moss’ tenure. The Terps declined to make Brewer available for comment.
Individuality defines Brewer’s coaching style. He knows his receivers’ idiosyncrasies — how many steps they use to get to the top of their route and which foot they prefer to break with — and tailors his plans accordingly.
Chambers hits his break at the top at three steps and on his left foot. On the same route, Jones hits it at two and on his right. They’re comfortable in their own techniques, so Brewer doesn’t try to mold either to fit a certain style.
Brewer also excels at teaching the finer details of route running, Jones said, such as hand fighting and different releases and breaks.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh, I coach it like this, so you need to run it like this,’” Jones said. “This game isn’t one size fits all. That goes for routes, concepts, everything. One person may run it different and it may work, so you gotta go with what works.”
Brewer tries to balance coaching hard and having fun. He achieves that by fostering relationships with his players off the field.
Brewer frequently sends Maryland’s receivers good morning texts with a Bible scripture. Consistent group dinners allow him to form bonds with his players. The coach ensures the receivers’ meeting room is always stocked with Gatorade and snacks — Starbursts, Jolly Ranchers and Sour Patch Kids are some of their favorites.
“Players, they need to know you care about them besides just what they can do for you on the football field,” Locksley said. “Gunter is one of those guys that goes above and beyond.”
Maryland intentionally spreads the ball around on offense. The tight-knit bond Brewer has built has prevented targets from tearing the Terps’ receivers apart this season.
The unit’s depth and diversity have worked in tandem with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa to push the Terps to an undefeated start entering their bout with Ohio State on Saturday. Maryland’s passing game is a chief reason why it could defeat the Buckeyes for the first time in program history.
Brewer ties Jones, Prather, Chambers, Octavian Smith Jr., Tai Felton and the rest of the receiver group together. Through pizza dinners, good morning texts and a misspelled acronym, he intertwines an assortment of skill sets and personalities into a cohesive unit.