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January 27, 2012

Engram excited to join Pitt staff

For Bobby Engram, his new job as Pitt receivers coach isn't just about returning to college after 15 years as a player and coach in the NFL, and it's not just about returning to the area he has called home for more than a decade.

"I'm looking forward to every aspect of it, but what excites me the most is having the opportunity to coach the guys and teach the guys on a day-in and day-out basis. And then being able to help them navigate some of the things that you have to deal with as a student-athlete and being a sounding board and a voice of reason."

Engram, who was officially introduced as the newest addition to Paul Chryst's staff on Friday, comes to Pitt after spending one year as an offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers. It was there that he worked with Geep Chryst, the 49ers' quarterbacks coach and brother of the current Pitt head coach.

One Chryst led to another, and that led to a job offer when the former Wisconsin offensive coordinator was assembling a staff at Pitt.

"I'm really excited that our players will have the opportunity to learn and benefit from Bobby's tremendous experience and knowledge of the game," Paul Chryst said in a press release. "He will be a great teacher on the field and make an even greater impact on our players off the field."

"The best advice I ever got in this business early on was to be the best you that you can be," Engram said. "I'm being myself if I'm being authentic and genuine and day-in and day-out, and guys will sense that. That's the main thing for me: that they know they can count on me to be consistent, whether it's on the field or in the classroom. I will obviously take different teaching tactics and different drills that I've learned along the way from players and coaches, but at the end of the day I have to be myself."

Engram retired from the NFL after the 2010 season, ending a 14-year career as a pro. The Chicago Bears drafted him in the second round of the 1996 draft, but he spent the bulk of his career with the Seattle Seahawks. He finished with a total of 650 receptions for 7,751 yards and 35 touchdowns.

But Engram's college career at Penn State was even more impressive. The South Carolina native still leads the Nittany Lions' record book in receiving yards (3,026), receiving touchdowns (31), and games with at least 100 receiving yards (16). He was named an All-American three times and All-Big Ten three times, and in 1994 he was the inaugural recipient of the Biletnikoff Award (the top receiver in the nation).

Now he is back in college, ready to develop Pitt's current group of receivers and work to bring more players to the Panthers. Engram has never recruited before and hasn't been in college since the mid-1990's, but he is confident he can get back in the game quickly.

"I think the University of Pittsburgh sells itself. This is a phenomenal university, and really it's about conveying to the young men what this staff is about and what we're trying to accomplish as a coaching staff and how we see them fitting into the program and fitting into the offense.

"I'm not a salesman; I'm a representative of this university and what we stand for, and I will tell the kids and tell the parents the truth and not what they want to hear. I think that's the best way to approach it: just be up-front and put all of your cards on the table."

In addition to his work in the world of football, Engram, 39, is also a spokesperson for the United Way and created the "Bobby Engram Foundation," an organization that focuses on sickle cell anemia research. He maintains a residence in Murrysville with his wife Deanna, who is a Penn Hills native.

"I went to San Francisco because it was a tremendous opportunity; this is a tremendous blessing," Engram said. "I mean, in the coaching profession to be able to come and be a part of a staff like this at a fine university basically where I live and where my wife was born and raised, it's a very unique opportunity."

Engram is the eighth assistant Chryst has hired to fill his coaching staff. The only remaining unfilled position is defensive line coach.






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