Feb. 16—Brennan Marion’s passion for football — whether it was catching passes, teaching others to throw and catch or writing about it — has brought him back home.
Marion, who grew up in Pittsburgh and played wide receiver at Greensburg Salem before embarking on a far-reaching college career as a player and coach, will be the next wide receivers coach at Pitt, a source told the Tribune-Review. The hiring was first reported by The Athletic.
Marion, 33, replaces Chris Beatty, who was one of Pitt’s top recruiters before leaving this year to join the Los Angeles Chargers coaching staff.
Greensburg Salem assistant Casey Cavanaugh, who was Marion’s offensive coordinator in 2004, said Marion was different from many of the athletes he coached.
“He was so enthusiastic all the time,” Cavanaugh said. “His practice habits were great. He had a gear athletically that most kids don’t have and a determination that most kids don’t have.”
After he graduated from Greensburg Salem, Marion moved to California, where he attended junior college before he was recruited to the University of Tulsa by former Pitt coach Todd Graham, who later gave a big boost to Marion’s coaching career — twice.
At Tulsa in 2007, Marion set an NCAA record for average yards per reception (31.9). In two years, he averaged 28.7 yards per catch.
A knee injury ended his playing career, but he did go to training camp with the Miami Dolphins before heading back to California, where he coached high school football from 2010-2013. He returned to Pennsylvania when he was named head coach at Waynesboro High School for the 2014 season, leading the team to a share of the league championship a year after it finished 0-10.
He reunited with Graham in 2015 as Arizona State’s offensive quality control coach before moving on to Oklahoma Baptist as its running backs coach and later to Howard (2017-2018) and William & Mary (2019) as quarterback coach and coordinator of uptempo offenses. In 2019, he wrote a book entitled “The Go-Go Offense.”
He was back with Graham last season as Hawaii’s wide receivers coach.
“He has such a passion for what he does, as both an athlete and a coach,” Cavanaugh said.
“All the intangibles as an athlete, the perseverance, the dedication, the hard work, all the cliches, certainly that’s the truth. They are often overused, but he just put his nose to the grindstone and worked so hard, finishing plays all the time. He just had a different gear.
“You never had to coach effort with him. The effort was always there. You could just see he had a desire to excel.
“I really believe, in my heart of hearts, had he not hurt his knee, he would have been able to play on Sundays. I really believe that.”
Cavanaugh, an English teacher at Hempfield, said Marion stopped to see him a few years ago when he was recruiting a player from the school.
He said Marion was eager to bring his career closer to home.
“I knew he was looking. We teased about the whole Hawaii thing being a great place, but it’s true it’s the other end of the earth.
“I think he was yearning to get back to the area, at least to the 48 states.”
Marion is one of two new additions to Pat Narduzzi’s staff this year, joining linebackers coach Ryan Manalac.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .