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Q&A: Virginia Football Beat Writer Greg Madia Says Penn State did ‘Excellent Job’ in Hiring WR Coach Marques Hagans

Marques Hagans is the new receivers coach for Penn State football, and he’s drawn rave reviews from fans and media.

On the day Penn State hired Hagans away from the University of Virginia’s football program, Nittany Sports Now’s Mike Farrell wrote that Hagans is a “home run hire.”

Later in the week, NSN talked with UVA beat writer Greg Madia of the Daily Progress about Hagans.

Madia was highly complimentary of Hagans’s personality, player development skills and recruiting abilities. Here’s what he had to say in this Nittany Sports Now Q&A.

Nittany Sports Now: What are your thoughts on Marques Hagans as a coach, and how do you think Penn State did in hiring him?

Greg Madia: Man, I’ll tell ya, I think Penn State did an excellent job. He’s a terrific developer of talent, and I think, as you’ll get to know Maqrues when you’re on the beat there in State College, he’s a really good person and cultivates excellent relationships with his players. It’s a tough loss for Virginia. He’s been on staff at Virginia, spanning three different regimes. He was on Mike London’s staff going back to when London was the coach at UVA as a grad assistant and then as the wide receivers coach. After London was let go, it was Bronco Mendenhall who decided to retain Marques Hagans, and Marques Hagans stayed on that staff with Mendall all the way through his tenure (2016-21) and then you look at Tony Elliot coming into Charlottesville after being the offensive coordinator at Clemson, and he decided to keep Marques Hagans on staff. So it really speaks volumes, right?

NSN: Some of the cynics out there might say, ‘well, why couldn’t he get an offensive coordinator job? Why couldn’t he get a position coach job at a bigger school? What would you say to those people?

GM: I think he was comfortable at Virginia, you know? Has a young family, and he and his wife and their kids, you know, they love UVA. So I think that’s part of it, too, and something you have to realize also. Then, this past year, he was given a title promotion to associate head coach. He had not had that title before. He’s been instrumental in their recruiting, too, at Virginia the past few years.

Honestly, I think it was just a matter of time and him searching for the right opportunity.

NSN: How do you think he’ll do recruiting at Pen State?

GM: He’s going to recruit Virginia really, really well. That state has been good to Penn State in recent years, and (head coach James) Franklin’s done a good job. I think Hagans only adds to that. He has instant credibility going to the Tidewater area, the 757 in the commonwealth. Then even in Richmond, too. Richmond, I think, is an underrated place to recruit, and Penn State can really benefit from some of the connections that he has there. 

NSN: From what you’ve seen, what are his strengths as a coach that allow him to get through to players and be able to develop them the way he has?

GM: I look back the past couple years on what he was able to do with Keytaon Thompson… He transferred to Virginia from Mississippi State as a quarterback ahead of the 2020 season. You look at what he was brought in to do, and that was to compete with Brennan Armstrong for the top quarterback spot, the starting quarterback gig. It didn’t go all that well just because Thompson had an injury that prevented him from throwing the ball how he liked to throw it. So Virginia, they still had this really, really good athlete, super fast, elusive, talented, didn’t know quite what to do with him. So they started trying him out at other positions. Running back, some wildcat quarterback, some receiver. And he handled that pretty well and really developed as a receiver. In 2020, he was kind of used as a gadget player, do-it-all type role. In 2021, a little bit more of that with more emphasis on the receiver spot. He was one of four Virginia receivers in 2021 to go for over 600 yards. Then you look at this past season. It was pretty much a receiver exclusive role for Keytaon Thompson as he refined a lot of his skills over the past three seasons under Hagans’s watch into a guy that they could trust as an every-down wide receiver.

From a relationship standpoint, he does a really, really nice job. I think the players get to know him, his family. I think the Penn State kids will appreciate that about him. He’s so personable, and that yields players wanting to play hard for him. There’s no doubt about that.

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