MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With one season as a wide receiver coach at Virginia Military Institute in central Virginia completed, Bilal Marshall received a phone call early in the offseason.
“It was awesome when coach Brown called me. It was kind of surreal, because he called me, and I was like, ‘What’s going on here coach?'” Marshall said with a laugh on Saturday. “We had a good conversation about some things he was thinking about doing.”
The 29-year-old interviewed for the job in December and received another phone call from Brown shortly after Christmas.
“It’s yours. I need you here on this day, and let’s go,” Marshall said Brown told him on that call.
Just like that, Marshall was returning to West Virginia. It’s where he had previously spent two seasons working with the wide receivers under Brown in 2020 and 2021 as a graduate assistant. In his return to WVU, Marshall elevated in conference affiliation — going from the Southern Conference to the Big 12 — and became the full-time wide receivers coach with the Mountaineers. He replaced Tony Washington, who left WVU in the offseason after one season with the program.
“Quite honestly it’s like I never left. It literally was about 11 months since I was gone last time, and it really feels like not much has changed since then,” Marshall said. He later added, “I wasn’t gone that long, so everything was seamless when I came back in.”
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Marshall isn’t just familiar with West Virginia’s coaching staff and facilities — valuable information when no one was around to let him in the building when he arrived on his first day back. He is also familiar with the players in his position group.
Despite a lot of turnover in the wide receiver room, most notably the departures of Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Sam James, and Kaden Prather from last year’s roster, Marshall has personal connections with many of the wideouts he is now coaching.
“I recruited Jeremiah Aaron and Cortez Braham before I left. So, they knew exactly who I was before I came back. Preston Fox, Graeson Malashevich, [C.J.] Cole, all of those guys have been here since I’ve been here,” said Marshall. “Rodney Gallagher will be here in the fall, he knows exactly who I am. I was part of the recruiting process, before I left, with him as well. Traylon Ray will be here, and we’ve got a great relationship already, being that we’re both from the state of Florida, so we just kind of hit it off really quickly.”
While Marshall does have familiarity with the majority of his pass catchers, the majority of them lack playing experience at this level. With just one season of Division I coaching under his belt, Marshall, too, could be considered inexperienced. Some could see the situation as a tall task for the second-year coach to overcome, but that’s not how Marshall looks at it.
“I take it as a compliment, but I also take it with great respect, because, coach Brown didn’t have to give me this opportunity and he did. And that tells me that he trusts me, and he knows what I bring to the table,” Marshall said. “So every morning that I wake up, I make sure I know I’m here to make him right in every facet. I know what this responsibility means, I know what this role means to him.”
Marshall is one of two coaching additions on the offensive side of the football, with Blaine Stewart being the other. Both Marshall and Stewert have spent time with the program in the past. Marshall was a GA for two years, while Stewart grew up in the program as the son of former head coach Bill Stewart. Blaine is entering his first year as WVU’s tight ends coach.
The two have returned to Morgantown from wildly different circumstances, but they share the WVU bond.
“He’ll lean on me for certain things, I’ll lean on him for certain things,” Marshall said. “He’s been a great resource here, just being that he is blue and gold, right? He is WVU.”