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U Mass Football
U Mass Football

Coaching Staff


Ed Pinkham
Defensive Coordinator / Safeties Coach

Ed Pinkham was announced as Massachusetts football’s new defensive coordinator in February 2017. He brings 30+ years of experience to the Minuteman program and will oversee the secondary.
 
Pinkham spent the 2013-16 seasons at Western Michigan as defensive coordinator. He led the Broncos’ defense in their 13-0 regular season, to the MAC Championship and a Cotton Bowl appearance. Last season, Pinkham’s defense ranked No. 15 nationally in scoring defense, No. 26 in total defense, No. 8 in defensive touchdowns, No. 18 in turnovers gained and No. 22 in interceptions forced.
 
The 2016 season also saw WMU’s defense hold three Big Ten opponents (Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois) to an average of 18.3 points per game and shutout two MAC opponents (Akron and Buffalo). The 2014 Broncos’ cornerbacks (Donald Celiscar and Ronald Zamort) tied each other for the national lead in passes defended with 1.6 per game
 
Pinkham was Rutgers’ defensive coordinator from 2009-10 and secondary coach in 2008. He guided the 2009 Rutgers defense, which included Devin and Jason McCourty, to national top-20 rankings in five statistical categories: tackles for loss (No. 1), turnover margin (No. 2), rush defense (No. 15), scoring defense (No. 16) and total defense (No. 18). Also in 2009, Rutgers’ defense held opponents to 15 points or less seven times and the Scarlet Knight secondary ranked second in the BIG EAST defending the pass.
 
Pinkham spent the 1996-2007 seasons at Colgate. His units led the Patriot League in defense in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2006 and, in 2007, the Raiders ranked No. 10 nationally against the run, No. 22 in total defense and No. 26 in scoring defense.
 
Pinkham’s previous stops also include Elon, Holy Cross, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Allegheny College.
 
A1975 graduate of Allegheny College, Pinkham is a native of Clark, New Jersey. He was a four-year letterwinner, four-time all-conference honoree and an Associated Press Second-Team All-American at safety for the Gators.
 
Pinkham and his wife, Karen, are the parents of Matt, Kelly and Jessica. 

Mark Michaels
Special Teams Coordinator / Outside Linebackers

Longtime college and NFL coach Mark Michaels was announced by head coach Mark Whipple as the UMass football program's special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach in January 2015. Michaels returns to familiar territory as he helped the Minutemen win the I-AA National Championship as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator in 1998.

Michaels has spent a large portion of his career coaching alongside Whipple since the pair first worked together in 1988 at the University of New Haven. Since first starting as a graduate assistant in New Haven from 1987-90, Michaels has also worked at Brown (1993-97), at UMass (1998), with the Cleveland Browns (1999-00), with the Seattle Seahawks (2001-04), with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2005-06) and at Fordham (2007).

Prior to being announced as UMass' new special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach, Michaels was the defensive and special teams coordinator and a health teacher at Ridgeview High School in Orange Park, Fla., since 2008.

Over the past six years, Michaels helped Ridgeview reach the Florida state playoffs three consecutive years (2010-12), advance to the third round of the 4A Playoffs in 2008 and set school records for wins (9, 2009), blocked kicks (2009) and return touchdowns (2009).

While at Fordham, where he served with current UMass defensive coordinator Tom Masella, Michaels helped the Rams reach the FCS playoffs in 2007. That season Fordham had the nation's No. 1 net punt and punt coverage rank for both the FCS and BCS divisions. In addition to his work as co-special teams coordinator, he coached the defensive line for a defense which ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Patriot League for tackles for loss and quarterback sacks, respectively.

His return to the collegiate ranks came after spending eight years coaching in the NFL. He received his start in the professional ranks with the Cleveland Browns in 1999 before being promoted to Special teams coordinator in 2000.

Michaels then moved on to the Seattle Seahwaks where he rose to special teams coordinator after spending three years as an assistant special teams coach. During his tenure there, Seattle made the playoffs twice, Alex Bannister was named to the Pro Bowl (2003), the Seahwaks finished 1st in the NFL for punt return yardage defense (2003) and Josh Brown was 2nd in the NFL for field goal percentage (23-of-25, 92.0%, 2004).

His last stint in the NFL was with Jacksonville during the 2005-06 season as assistant special teams coach. There he helped the Jaguars rank No. 1 during the 2005 season in overall offensive and defensive drive start position and Maurice Jones Drew ranked 3rd in the NFL in kickoff return average in 2006.

Prior to his NFL coaching career, Michaels was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at UMass during the 1998 I-AA Championship run. That season, he helped linebackers Khari Samuel and Kole Ayi flourish. Samuel finished the year as a First-Team All-America pick, while Ayi set the UMass single-season tackle record.

That marked the third time he had served with Whipple. The pair worked together while at Brown where Michaels was the linebackers, secondary and special teams coach from 1993-97.

His collegiate coaching career started in 1987 at New Haven where he was a graduate assistant coaching the defensive line and linebackers.

Between his stints at New Haven and Brown, Michaels was the head coach of the Helsinki (Finland) Roosters during the 1991 campaign, leading the team to the Finnish Maple League title. He then served for one season as linebackers coach for the Utah Pioneers of the Professional Spring Football League before entering private business as an account executive for Dun & Bradstreet.

Michaels is a 1986 graduate of the University of Connecticut where he was a two-time All-New England first-team pick and the Yankee Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 1985. His 13 quarterback sacks in 1984 is still tied as the UConn single-season record while his 27 career sacks ranks second in program history. He signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Cardinals in 1986 before beginning his coaching career. He and his wife, Mary, have two children, Grace and Max.


Steve Costello
Assistant Coach / Cornerbacks

Steve Costello is in his third season as a position coach at UMass. After serving as Tight Ends Coach in 2015, Costello moved over to the defensive side, coaching corners.  No stranger to Amherst, he was a four-year letterman for the Minutemen and also spent time as a graduate assistant during the 2014 season.

During his time as a graduate assistant and an intern with UMass football, he worked with the wide receivers and the defensive backs. UMass' passing offense improved nationally from 116th in 2013 to 19th in 2014.

A 2004 team captain and preseason All-America candidate, Costello totaled 12 career interceptions, 12th all-time in school history.

Costello earned his undergraduate degree from UMass in sociology in May 2014.


Dave Wissman
Assistant Coach / Defensive Line

Veteran educator and coach Dave Wissman joined the University of Massachusetts football staff as defensive line coach in March 2017.
 
Wissman spent the 2009-16 seasons with the Sacred Heart football program, including the last six years as defensive coordinator. The Pioneers won back-to-back Northeast Conference Championships in 2013 and 2014 while advancing to the FCS Championships during both campaigns. He tutored 23 all-conference selections, five All-new England honorees and three All-Americans.
 
Among the prep ranks, Wissman served at The Berkshire School (2005-07), Northfield Mount Hermon (2000-05), Pioneer Regional School (1999-2000), Mahar Regional High School (1998-99) and The Eaglebrook School (1986-98).
 
A Western Massachusetts native, Wissman was a four-year letterwinner and team captain at New Hampshire (1981-85). During his time in Durham, Wissman was coached by UMass defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham and was teammates with UMass’ Director of Operations Paul Gorham. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree from UMass in 1993.
 
Married to the former Mary Shippee for more than 30 years, they are the parents of three grown sons and reside in Guilford, Vermont. 

Darrius Smith
Assistant Coach / Running Backs

Head coach Mark Whipple announced the addition of Darrius Smith to the University of Massachusetts football program as the squad's running backs coach during the Spring of 2015. Smith came to Amherst following an eight-year stint in the same position at Villanova and more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience overall.

Prior to his arrival at UMass, Smith turned the Wildcats running game into one of the best in the Colonial Athletic Association. In five different seasons (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), he spearheaded the program to rushing offenses that led the conference, highlighted by the 2012 campaign in which the team tallied 252.8 yards per game. During this period, Smith also guided several players to All-CAA honors and 1,000-yard seasons.

The 1995 graduate of Frostburg State University also made stops in collegiate coaching capacities at Northeastern (2004-06), James Madison (2002-04), Idaho (2001-02), Indiana (Pa.) (2000-01) and New Mexico Highlands (1995-00). Smith began his coaching career at Frostburg State as a student assistant after a career as a defensive back, during which he posted 15 interceptions. Additionally, he received an NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the summer of 2005.

Smith holds a Bachelor's Degree in Health and Physical Education.


Charles Walker
Assistant Coach / Inside Linebackers / Recruiting Coordinator

Charles Walker is entering his fourth season with the UMass football staff. He was the outside linebackers coach for the 2014 season and moved to inside linebackers prior to the 2015 season.

In 2012 and 2013, Walker was a member of the Vanderbilt staff with the title of defensive quality control coach. In 2013, the Commodores ranked second in interceptions in the Southeastern Conference (18), led in interception return yards (277), and tied for fourth in sacks (28).

Walker was a member of the Nichols College (Mass.) coaching staff for four years in a number of capacities, including linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

No stranger to Amherst, Walker was a four-year letterman for UMass. In addition to being named a captain in 2007, he was named a CAA First-Team selection and a New England Writers All-Star.

Walker appeared in 50 games and started 36, totaling 340 total tackles, eight sacks and 15 TFL. He tied the UMass single-game high for tackles (23), a record he shares with John McKeown. Walker also tallied 10 career games in which he earned 10 or more tackles.

In 2006, he earned Atlantic 10 Second-Team honors and was named honorable mention for the Don Hansen All-Northeast Region Team. That season, he also helped lead the Minutemen to the NCAA Division I-AA Championship Game under head coach Don Brown.

A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Walker holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from UMass.


Spencer Whipple
Passing Game Coordinator / Wide Receivers

After a stint at Pittsburgh as a defensive graduate assistant and video assistant, Spencer Whipple came to Massachusetts beginning with the 2014 season as tight ends coach for the Minutemen. Prior to the 2015 season, Whipple moved to Wide Receivers Coach, and became the passing game coordinator. 

Son of head coach Mark Whipple, Spencer is no stranger to Amherst, being raised in the area during his father's first tenure directing the UMass football program (1998-2003). Additionally, he spent one season (2008) with the Minutemen as a quarterback alongside Liam Coen who is now Massachusetts' quarterbacks coach.

His playing career also included stops at Pittsburgh and Miami (FL).

In 2007, he walked-on to the Pitt squad, then played in each game at Miami in 2010 and 2011 as holder and backup quarterback.

During his senior season in 2011, he received the Mariutto Family Scholar-Athlete Award and, as a holder, helped lead the Hurricanes to a 39-for-39 PAT rate and 11-for-14 field goal rate.

As a student-athlete at Pine-Richland High School (Pa.), he threw for nearly 1,500 yards during his senior season, including 11 touchdowns. The run helped compose the Rams' 11-1 record and subsequent Greater Allegheny Conference Championship. That season, he earned "Fabulous 22" North honors from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Whipple holds a degree from Miami in Sociology.


Mike Foley
Assistant Coach / Offensive Line

College coaching veteran and New England native Mike Foley joined the Massachusetts football program, as offensive line coach, in March 2016.
 
He spent the 2006-14 seasons working with the offensive line and tight ends at the University of Connecticut. In his first season working with the tight ends in 2012, Ryan Griffin earned All-BIG EAST second-team honors and he and John Delahunt combined to be one of the more effective tight ends duos in UConn history. Griffin was selected by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
 
Foley and his offensive line were key factors in UConn's outstanding rushing game in 2009-11 as the Huskies featured two 1,000-yard rushers in BIG EAST Player of the Year and All-American Jordan Todman (2009 and 10) and Andre Dixon (2009). Lyle McCombs joined that group in 2011. In addition, center Moe Petrus was named BIG EAST First-Team All-Conference while tackle Mike Ryan was a second-team selection.
 
Foley and his offensive line were a key factor in Donald Brown achieving the status as the country's leading rusher in 2008. In 2008, Foley coached BIG EAST First-Team All-Conference selection Will Beatty at left tackle as Beatty later went on to play in the Senior Bowl and was selected in the Second Round of the National Football League Draft by the New York Giants.
 
Prior to UConn, Foley served from 1981-2005, over two stretches, with the football team at his alma mater, Colgate. He was the Raiders' head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach during his tenure. In 2005, his final year at Colgate, the Raiders posted an 8-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs. Foley helped coach all seven of Colgate's NCAA Playoff squads, including the 2003 team that advanced to the National Championship game. Of the 13 seasons in which Colgate was eligible for the playoffs with Foley aboard, the team qualified seven times. Foley also played a role in each of Colgate's five Patriot League Championship teams (1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005).
 
Colgate broke the league record for rushing yardage three times under Foley’s tutelage, and led the Patriot League five out of his last nine seasons. During his tenure as offensive coordinator (1997-2005), Foley produced 39 All-Patriot League players, including 13 on the offensive line. His offensive schemes and the line's blocking helped pave the way for a pair of Walter Payton Award winners, Kenny Gamble in 1987 and Jamal Branch in 2003.
 
In 1986, he served as Colgate’s interim head coach during the absence of head coach Fred Dunlap, who was recovering from bypass surgery. Following Dunlap's retirement in 1987, Foley was named head coach of the Raiders, a title he held through 1992, compiling a 21-34 record.
 
During a brief stint away from Colgate, Foley spent the 1994-96 seasons on the football staff at Harvard as the offensive coordinator.
 
Foley began his coaching career as offensive line coach at Bates College in 1978, before moving the next fall to Dartmouth as the freshman offensive line coach for one season. After one season as offensive line coach at Holy Cross in 1980, he returned to his alma mater as junior varsity head coach and varsity receivers coach. After two seasons in that position, he took over as offensive line coach in 1983. Foley added the duties of offensive coordinator in 1984.
 
He was a four-year letterwinner at Colgate and captain of the 1977 team. A three-year starter at center, he was twice honored as an All-East performer by the Associated Press and, in 1977, was also named to the ECAC All-East squad. In 2004, Foley was inducted into Colgate's Athletic Hall of Honor.
 
Foley was born in Kittery, Maine and raised in Newburyport, Mass. He graduated from Colgate University in 1978 with a degree in economics. Foley and his wife, Kathleen, have children, Erin and Patrick.

Jason Palermo
Assistant Coach / Tight Ends

Jason Palermo joined the Massachusetts football program, as tight ends coach, in March 2016 after spending the past four seasons (2012-15) as the offensive line coach at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.
 
Palermo began his coaching career under Pat Behrns at Nebraska-Omaha in 2009 as tight ends coach while assisting with the offensive line. He then moved to Southern University and spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons coaching tight ends and serving as special teams coordinator for former NFL great Stump Mitchell.
 
Palermo was a three-year letter winner at Wisconsin as an offensive guard and center. At the conclusion of his senior year in 2005, he was invited to play in the 2006 Hula Bowl All-Star game in Honolulu. Off the field, Palermo was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team in 2003. He played professionally for both the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons.
 
Palermo is married to the former Kaitlyn Beinlich. They have a daughter, Giabella and sons, JonLuca and Grayson. He is the son of veteran coach John Palermo, who spent 40+ seasons in the collegiate and professional coaching ranks. 

J.P. Correia
Assistant Director of Football Operations

J.P. Correia is coming off his second season as assistant director of operations for UMass football. He moved into a full-time roll after serving as a student assistant for three years.

Correia coordinates and executes day-to-day operations, travel and weekly plans, plane manifests, travel squads, hotel rooming, busses, itineraries and travel cards and police escorts.

His previous professional experience includes sales and marketing with the Providence Bruins, an internship with the Brockton Rox and gameday operations with the Worcester Wildcats and Springfield Falcons.

Correia earned his undergraduate degree in sport management from UMass in May 2015.


Joe Connolly
Strength & Conditioning Coach

Joe Connolly joined the University of Massachusetts Athletics staff in January 2016 and serves as the Minutemen's Director of Sports Performance/Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach.

A native of Barnstable, Mass., Connolly joins the staff after seven seasons working with the football program at the University of South Carolina. During his time with the Gamecocks, he coached 30 NFL Draft picks, including the 2014 No. 1 selection, and 29 of his former players are currently active on NFL rosters.

Prior to his arrival in Columbia, S.C., Connolly served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Louisville. He worked with the Cardinal football program, primarily focusing on the skill position players.

Connolly began his professional career at Harvard as an intern in 2007, assisting with all 41 sports, including the league's championship football team. He was hired as a full-time assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Crimson in 2008 and served as the head strength and conditioning coach for men's volleyball while continuing to assist with the other programs.

Connolly holds a Master of Science degree in physical education with a concentration in strength and conditioning from Bridgewater State, graduating magna cum laude in 2007. He is a 2004 graduate of the University of Hartford, where he earned degrees in criminal justice and sociology. He was a four-year letterwinner in baseball and was given the Senior Award for great sportsmanship and perseverance.

Connolly is Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches' Association (CSCCA) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Connolly is a current competitor in Olympic weightlifting, drug-free powerlifting, Highland games and strongman competitions. He is joined in Amherst by his wife, Shalona.


Matt Schell
Defensive Graduate Assistant

After a tenure as a student assistant working with all aspects of the defense, Matt Schell was named defensive graduate assistant for Massachusetts football in January 2016.

As an undergraduate, Schell worked as a video assistant with the New England Patriots. He was responsible for filming practices, individual workouts and games for the coaching staff. He worked with XOS computer software to digitize, edit and upload film and installed and operated the ICE software to assist coaches and scouts with specialized assignments.

Schell earned a dual undergraduate degree in finance and sport management from Massachusetts in May 2015.


D.J. Pirkle
Defensive Graduate Assistant

D.J. Pirkle joined the Massachusetts football program in February 2017. He serves as assistant to defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham.
 
He spent three seasons (2013-15) as defensive graduate assistant at Western Michigan, also under Pinkham. In 2016, he served as defensive line coach at Northern Michigan.
 
Pirkle was a four-year letterwinner at Northern Illinois, appearing in 46 games and making 31 starts at defensive tackle.  He finished his career with 75 total tackles, 22.5 TFLs and 8.0 sacks. Pirkle played in three bowl games at NIU, helping his alma mater to a 40-17 win over Fresno State in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl.
 
Pirkle served as an assistant coach at Lincoln Way East, in his hometown of Frankfort, Ill., in the summer of 2011.  In 2012, he assisted in designing and implementing defensive schemes and blitzes while also running the scout offense for a team that finished as Class 7A runner-up in the state of Illinois with a 13-1 record.
 
Pirkle returned to his alma mater in August of 2011 as a facilities and gameday operations intern, assisting with football, men's and women's basketball, softball, baseball and gymnastics.
 
A 2011 graduate of Northern Illinois, Pirkle continued his playing career with the Tulsa Talons (2011) and the Chicago Rush (2012). 

Brendan Flaherty
Offensive Graduate Assistant

Brendan Flaherty joined the Massachusetts football program in January 2017. As a graduate assistant, he assists Mike Foley with the offensive line. With the Minutemen, he will be responsible for analyzing practice and game film, reporting offensive production, coordinating the scout team and assisting in recruiting activities.
 
Flaherty has a wealth of Bay State football knowledge, having played four years at Bridgewater State. He was named team captain in 2014 and served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He spent time at Bentley University as an assistant tight ends and running backs coach before serving as assistant operations coordinator at Harvard for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
 
A native of in Woburn, Massachusetts, Flaherty received his bachelor’s from Bridgewater State in 2015. 

Scott Woodward
Assistant Coach / Quarterbacks

After serving as a Graduate Assistant at UMass in 2015, Scott Woodward is entering his second season as the Quarterbacks Coach. He originally joined the staff in July 2015, working with the quarterbacks and wide receivers, while assisting with all facets of the offense.

He returns to Amherst after coaching stints at Farleigh Dickinson (2013-15) and Westfield State (2010-13). At FDU, he served as offensive coordinator, academic coordinator, travel coordinator and assistant strength and conditioning coordinator. He was responsible for in-game play calling while working with the quarterbacks. He was an offensive graduate assistant at WSC, charged with coaching the quarterbacks and the offensive skill positions. He was also the fundraising coordinator and managed home game event operations.

Woodward was a four-year letterman with the Minutemen and, as a senior, completed 50-of-93 for 613 yards with two touchdowns and rushed 22 times for 62 yards. He served as back-up to all-time passing leader Liam Coen and holder for four seasons. He was a member of the 2006 Division I-AA National Championship team.

He was a three-year starting quarterback for Mahar Regional High School and led the Senators to back-to-back Division III Super Bowl titles. A three-time All-Western Mass selection and a first-team all-state selection as a senior, he threw for more than 4,000 yards in his career and 46 touchdowns passes.

A native of Wendell, Mass., Woodward earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from UMass in 2009.


Paul Gorham
Director of Operations

Bio Coming Soon!