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‘A Two-Way Street’: New Wide Receivers Coach Marques Hagans Describes Philosophy

Marques Hagans is a relationship guy. At his first press conference since being hired as Penn State’s new wide receivers coach on January 23, Hagans made that very clear.

Having spent 12 years with the University of Virginia coaching staff and another five years as a player, the relationships Hagans built with the Charlottesville community were one of the largest sources of hesitation before his relocation.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I couldn’t turn it down,” Hagans said.

Among one of Hagans’ strongest relationships from UVA is that which he shares with his former coach and Penn State’s current defensive backs coach Anthony Poindexter — a relationship that persists even now and was a key factor in the hiring. With UVA, Poindexter played four seasons before spending 11 years as a Cavalier coach, earning an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame and eventually seeing his name circulate for head coaching positions.

“Ironically, my career has kind of followed the same path,” Hagans said. “I think that when you have such a great example in front of you… I’m very thankful for that example that he set and hopefully, those things continue to carry on in that path.”

Reflecting on the pair’s relationship, Hagans explained how his bond evolved from football-related to familial — one of Hagan’s sons is even named “Christopher Dex,” in reference to Poindexter.

“In the UVA community, [Poindexter’s] admired. He’s looked up to. He’s probably one of the best players to ever play at UVA,” said Hagans. “That’s a big part of who he is to me and my family.”

While expounding his personal coaching philosophy, Hagans’ desire to build similar connections with his players was readily apparent.

“As a coach, I’m very relationship-driven,” Hagans said. “And then I’m very demanding. The only way I can be demanding is if I know exactly who I’m coaching… It’s gotta be a two-way street, not a one-way street.”

Hagans, who’s nicknamed “Biscuit” but doesn’t say why, believes strong coaching emanates from personal demonstrations of desired qualities and candid communication.

“I think the first thing is you gotta be vulnerable,” Hagans said. “Like, be open to the mistakes that I’ve made and then just really not so much talking like listening.”

“There are a lot of times you can kind of stunt the progress of developing relationships based upon talking too much,” Hagans continued.

Perhaps in an effort to preserve a relationship of his own, head coach James Franklin deemed it “inappropriate” to discuss the circumstances of former position coach Taylor Stubblefield’s dismissal. Instead, Franklin shined a light on how Hagans is already fitting in around the program.

“Our excitement for Marques Hagans is really high. If you look at his resume, he’s got a really good resume,” Franklin said Tuesday. “We talked to a good number of guys, and it just became obvious that this was the guy that we needed to bring into our room and kind of within our family.”

While Franklin expressed palpable optimism about Hagans’ future impact on the Nittany Lions’ performance, the team’s new wide receivers coach is optimistic about having a different kind of impact.

“Football is going to be a small window of what we do, but hopefully the relationships are impactful enough where I can go to weddings, I get to see kids be born, see families grow,” Hagans said.

In November, three active UVA players were tragically killed in an on-campus shooting. Though the shooting jarred the country and national news cycle, Hagans’ grieving period was understandably more intense than most — especially with two of the victims coming from his position group.

Hagans refused to categorize his new job as a “fresh start” away from the loss, saying his kinship with the victims transcends time.

“I don’t know if you necessarily move on. Those three guys will always be part of my life. I have them tattooed on my arm, so I’ll never forget them,” Hagans said. “Their families will always be a part of my family.”

Joining a new program, in a new place, with an entirely new roster, Hagans is truly starting from square one, which isn’t always easy. But after winter workouts kicked off Tuesday, it’s not hard to imagine Hagans has already begun laying the groundwork for some new connections.

“My family won’t join me until the summer, so going into spring ball without having a family here for the first time, that’s definitely part of [the] transition,” Hagans said. “It’s gonna be a little different, you know, for my family, but football is football.”

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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