Quick links:
 Latest Team Rankings
 Free Rivals Alerts
 Member Services
ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports

March 12, 2008

Marion making the most of his opportunities

Tulsa wide receiver Brennan Marion makes the most of his opportunities.

Whether getting an education or catching the football, Marion didn't just answer when opportunity knocked. He also invited opportunity in, offered it an easy chair and a drink and implored it to stay a while.

In doing so, he has gained stability in his unstable life and enough yardage to earn a place in the NCAA record book.

Marion last season averaged an astounding 31.9 yards per catch on 39 receptions, breaking the 39-year-old Division I-A mark set by Houston's Elmo Wright, who averaged 27.9 yards on 43 receptions in 1968.

That's an amazing accomplishment, especially considering Marion was in his first season at Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane begin spring practices on Tuesday and Marion is sure he can offer more this fall.

"I think this year I can be better," said Marion, who said he runs the 40 in 4.3 seconds. "This will be the first time I've ever been on the same team for two years."

That quote hints at the instability of Marion's pre-Tulsa life.

Marion doesn't reveal many details about his past, but offers that he grew up in a single-parent home in Pittsburgh and was forced to move repeatedly. He said he attended six high schools, including three in his sophomore year, and that his grades suffered as a result.

"My mom just kept getting different jobs and we had to move a lot," he said. "I went to junior college because I didn't have my SAT scores."

Marion went to Foothill College in Los Altos Hill, Calif., for his freshman season, then transferred to De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif.

He said that because he couldn't afford an apartment, he slept in the locker room or the press box until a coach found out and let him move in with him.

Marion earned an associates degree, then headed for Tulsa to play for first-year coach Todd Graham.

Last season, Tulsa became the first team in NCAA history to boast a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers in the same season.

Marion led in receiving yardage with 1,244 yards, but freshman receiver Trae Johnson and freshman fullback Charles Clay had more receptions. Clearly, Marion wasn't quarterback Paul Smith's first target.

"Starting out, they were just throwing go-routes, but as the year went on they started throwing me more curls, crosses and outs," Marion said.

It made sense to get him the ball. He averaged a touchdown on every fourth catch and had 25 receptions that covered at least 25 yards. Each of his 11 touchdown catches covered between 31 and 75 yards.

His speed obviously is a big reason for his big plays, and so were Johnson and Clay, who drew a lot of defensive attention. In addition, Tulsa faced five teams that ranked 100th or worse nationally in pass defense. This fall, the Golden Hurricane face six teams that ranked 95th or worse in pass defense in 2007.

Marion also benefited from having Smith throwing to him. Smith was adept at avoiding the rush, buying time, and then finding open receivers downfield when coverage broke down. Smith is gone, and he'll be replaced by David Johnson, Clark Harrell (the younger brother of Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell) or junior college transfer Jacob Bower.

Marion doesn't view having a new quarterback as a problem; to him, it's just another opportunity.

"Last year we didn't get to work with Paul (in the spring)," he said. "This year we have a lot of time to get used to whoever our quarterback is."

But Marion admits that duplicating his record-setting average is highly unlikely. "I'm shooting for 25 yards a catch," he said.

Trivia question

What college program has produced the most Super Bowl MVPs? (Answer at the end of the column.)

A new-tral trend?

In what may prove to be a trend, Texas A&M and Arkansas have agreed to a 10-year series of games to be played at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in 2009.

The stadium, being built in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, is expected to be among the most luxurious in the nation and could seat up to 100,000.

If the series proves successful, it could start a trend of more series at neutral sites, particularly in areas considered recruiting hotbeds. Last season, the only neutral-site series matched Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas, Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville and Army vs. Navy in Philadelphia.

Notre Dame, which will play Washington State in San Antonio in 2009, had negotiated to play Baylor at Cowboys Stadium in 2012, but that game was moved to the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to avoid conflict with Big 12 TV contracts.

Toy wonder

Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top-ranked football recruit who still hasn't decided where he'll sign, often has toyed with opponents. Now opponents can do the same to him.

That is, if they can grab a new toy likeness of Pryor in his Jeannette (Pa.) High School uniform. Getting their hands on one may prove even more difficult than getting their hands on Pryor.

A Pittsburgh-area man who makes sports figurines as a hobby has made two of Pryor, but said he doesn't plan to sell them.

Quick hitters

  • Les Koenning, who served as offensive coordinator for Dennis Franchione at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M, has been named offensive coordinator at South Alabama. The Jaguars plan to start playing football in 2010 and be a Division I-A program in 2013.

  • Colorado has hired former Olympic swimming gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar as Title IX adviser. Her appointment was part of a settlement of a case in 2001 in which two women charged they were raped by CU football players and recruits. Hogshead-Makar, 45, was a rape victim when she was a sophomore at Duke.

  • South Florida coach Jim Leavitt reportedly has agreed to a contract extension that runs through 2014. His annual salary will increase from $1 million to $1.5 million, and he'll earn $12.6 million over the next seven seasons.

  • Doak Ostergard, the longtime head trainer at Nebraska who last year was fired by then-coach Bill Callahan, has been re-hired by athletic director Tom Osborne. Ostergard will serve as the athletic department's outreach director.

  • Oklahoma State center David Washington, who made 27 consecutive starts before suffering a season-ending broken leg early last year, is participating in spring practice on a limited basis. It is uncertain whether he'll return to center or move to guard.

  • Auburn junior quarterback Chris Todd had tests to determine why he's experiencing pain and weakness in his shoulder. The tests showed no structural damage.

  • Syracuse sophomore Da'Mon Merkerson is moving from wide receiver to cornerback. Merkerson played as a true freshman at receiver last season, but cornerback is a position of need for the Orange.

  • Arizona coach Mike Stoops has established a 14-player council to enforce team rules. The group includes seven offensive and seven defensive players, and has players from all four classes. The council will weigh in on punishments ranging from extra running to suspensions.

  • Kentucky has added Middle Tennessee State to its 2008 schedule. The Wildcats will play host to the Blue Raiders on Sept. 13. Kentucky still is seeking one more game to complete its schedule.

    Trivia answer

    Three former Georgia Bulldogs have been named Super Bowl MVPs. Miami safety Jake Scott was honored in Super Bowl VII, Denver running back Terrell Davis was honored in Super Bowl XXXII and Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward was honored in Super Bowl XL.

    Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

  • Nebraska NEWS


    Latest Headlines:

    Rivals.com is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
    Site-specific editorial/photos HuskerOnline.com. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
    About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

    Statistical information 2014 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.