It would have taken a lot for Marques Hagans to leave the University of Virginia.
Hagans played quarterback at UVA in the early-to-mid-2000s and ranks in the top 10 on the school’s all-time passing list.
UVA had also Hagans and it had been the only place he’d ever coached until last month.
From 2011-12, Hagans was a graduate assistant at his alma mater.
After the 2012 season, he got promoted to wide receivers coach, and stayed in that position for 10 seasons.
When Mike London resigned after 2015, new coach Bronco Mendenhall kept Hagans on his staff. When Mendenhall stepped down after the 2021, new coach Tony Elliot kept Hagans, too.
Charlottesville was the place Hagans played college football.
It was a place that was good to him in his family, especially when his wife, Lauren, went through the nightmare of breast cancer.
It was a place he loved, and it would have taken a big opportunity for Hagans to go somewhere else.
Penn State head coach James Franklin offered Hagans that opportunity, and he felt he couldn’t turn it down.
“Charlottesville’s been a place that has become home, and a lot of it is because of the people,” Hagans told reporters at his introductory press conference Tuesday afternoon. “Being able to sustain that opportunity and stay there for such a long period of time has been a blessing, and a lot of that has played into it as well. There’s a period of time where my wife was sick, she’s a breast cancer survivor, so the opportunity to leave wasn’t available because we felt the best care for her to recover from breast cancer was there in Charlottesville. So a lot of factors played behind the scenes, and now, just having the opportunity to work for Coach Franklin and join Penn State was a great opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. Wasn’t an easy decision, but couldn’t turn it down.
Having Anthony Poindexter on staff helped Penn State land Hagans. Poindexter was a safety at UVA in the late 1990s and is in the College Football Hall of Fame. Long before coming to Penn State, which he did prior to the 2021 season, Poindexter was on UVA’s staff from 2003-13 and was there when Hagans was a college quarterback.
How highly does Hagans think of Poindexter? One of his sons is named Christopher “Dex.”
“That’s a big part of who he is to me and my family,” Hagans said. “So, the opportunity to reunite with him here is a big part of that.”
The unfortunate thing about Hagans’s hiring is that it came at the expense of Penn State’s last receivers coach, Taylor Stubblefield. Stubblefield got fired after three seasons last month. When asked about what went into Stubblefield’s firing Tuesday, Franklin, as expected, didn’t go into much detail. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to express his enthusiasm for Hagans.
“He’s got a really good resume,” Franklin said. “When you talk to whether it’s NFL head coaches, if you talk to college head coaches, if you talk to search firms and things like that, you know, a guy that played quarterback and played quarterback at a high level for really good coaches in a complicated West Coast system, played wide receiver in college and quarterback in college, played five years at wide receiver in the NFL.
“Then (coached for) 11 years at his alma mater and (is) beloved there. I mean, everybody you talk to just loves Marques.”
For Franklin, the love people have for Hagans is similar to how people feel about Poindexter.
Franklin told reporters that Poindexter endorsed Hagans’s hiring.
“Having Coach Poindexter on my staff,” Franklin said, “and I think you guys know how I feel about him and his family, and for them and for him specifically to vouch for Marques and the family, you know, that carried a lot of weight.”
After talking with “a good number of guys,” Franklin felt it became apparent that Hagans was the man for the job.
Hagans’s Penn State tenure hasn’t been long.
Spring practice is still more than a month away, and the team has only had one winter workout. But Franklin says everything with Hagans is good so far.
“It’s been really good having him around,” Franklin said. “You know, I think it’s going to be exciting getting his family to move here as well.”
Franklin feels reporters and everybody who gets to know Hagans will enjoy him.
“The most important thing is bringing the best people you possibly can into your organization,” Franklin said, “the most talented people and you help them grow.”