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Tom Marvaso; Return Man Extrodinaire

S - 1973-75

Tom Marvaso was one of the brightest stars for the program as it was entering it's darkest days. Greg Cook and Jim O'Brien had a lasting impact. The interest they generated in the program carried over well into the next decade. This despite the fact that the teams of the early seventies were average, and unlike the Cook and O'Brien days, not exactly a sight to behold. Ray Callahan was the man who took over the program after the departure of Homer Rice.

Callahan wasn't the offensive innovator that Rice was. He played simple balls to the wall football. He ran the ball on offense and he worked to stop the run on defense. When UC won with Callahan it was usually with a lowish score. If Callahan was on the sideline a shootout was unlikely to erupt, and if it did, the other team was usually doing to scoring.

Callahan did what every UC coach has tried to do, before and since, lock down the top talent in the city. He had some success with that, arguably as much as anyone since Ray Nolting and Sid Gillman. The 1971 recruiting class was almost entirely local, the guy that everyone would know from that class was Jim Kelly Jr, everyone's favorite radio color analyst. But his best recruit hailed from Washington DC, and never played a Varsity Snap for him. His name was Tom Marvaso.


When Tony Mason took over the program he continued very much in the mold of Callahan's foot steps. If anything he was a bigger hard ass. Marvaso started every year that he was eligible for Mason, as a Safety and as a kick returner. Marvaso was a talented defender, he had a starring turn with the defense in 1973 that held opponents to just 1,147 rushing yards. But where Marvaso really made his mark was as a Punt Returner.

He still is in the top 5 in Punt Return yardage, for a season and career and is one of only six Bearcats to have returned multiple punts for TD's in a single season. He also ranks fourth all time in punt returns for TD's at UC. Marvaso was named First Team All American by The Sporting News after his senior season. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the 6th round of the 1976 NFL Draft.