Special Teams Coordinator
Charles Walker is in his fifth season with the UMass football staff in 2017 and begins his first as the special teams coordinator in 2018-19.
Walker served in multiple linebacker-related roles over his four completed seasons with the program, culminating in one of the strongest seasons by a UMass linebacking unit in program history in 2017. All three starters - Jarell Addo, Bryton Barr and Steve Casali - finished among the top-five Minutemen in total tackles while the trio combined for 21.5 TFLs and 7.0 sacks.
Walker served as the outside linebackers coach for the 2014 season and moved to inside linebackers prior to the 2015 season. Walker's role increased to include recruiting coordinator duties in 2015 while he continues to work with the linebacker unit.
Walker molded then-redshirt junior Steve Casali into a Phil Steele First Team All-Independent linebacker in 2016, when Casali emerged as the team-leader with 105 tackles and three fumble recoveries.
Casali's emergence highlighted a trend under in linebacker success under Walker's guidance as previously, in 2015, linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox earned second-team All-MAC honors with 131 total tackles. Santos-Knox also led the FBS in assisted tackles with 87.
In 2012 and 2013, Walker was a member of the Vanderbilt staff as defensive quality control coach. In 2013, the Commodores ranked second in interceptions in the Southeastern Conference (18), led the league 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 the Minutemen. In addition to being named team captain in 2007, he was a Colonial Athletic Association First-Team selection and a New England Football Writers All-Star.
In his career, 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 North Lauderdale, Fla., Walker earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Massachusetts. Simultaneously to fulfilling his coaching responsibilities at Nichols College, Walker attained a Masters in Business Administration from the school in 2012. He is the father of Nyla Ann.
Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Spencer Whipple enters his fifth season on the Massachusetts football staff in 2018-19. He coached the tight ends in 2014 and took on the role of receivers coach prior to the 2015 season, an area he continued to work with in 2016 and did so again in 2017. In 2018-19, Whipple adds the responsibility of being the team's quarterbacks coach while he continues his role as passing game coordinator.
Whipple continued to elevate the team's offensive success in 2018, as Massachusetts posted record book numbers ranking among the top-five in team history for pass completions, total passing yards and passing yards per game, passer efficiency and average yards per pass attempt.
As the team's wide receivers coach in 2017, Whipple also guided a youthful core alongside veteran standout Andy Isabella. The group of receivers - including tight end Adam Breneman - amassed the second-most receptions per game in program history (22.67) alongside the third-most total catches (272) and receptions yards (3,570).
Following the success of 2017, wide receivers Andy Isabella and Sadiq Palmer and tight end Adam Breneman collected Phil Steele All-Independent honors, while Breneman nabbed USA TODAY All-America.
A pair of receivers emerged in the UMass offensive set during 2016 thanks in part to Whipple's guidance as Adam Breneman and Andy Isabella combined for more than 50 percent of the team's receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions.
Breneman, a tight end, was a 2016 Campus Insiders Second Team All-America choice, John Mackey Award semifinalist and Phil Steele First Team All-Independent selection at tight end. Isabella, won Phil Steele First Team All-Independent at wide receiver after he posted a breakout season that featured a nearly 800 percent increase on his total receiving yards (7 in 2015; 801 in 2016).
During the 2015 campaign, under Whipple’s direction, senior Tajae Sharpe put together one of the most dominant receiver seasons in program history. He set Massachusetts football records for single-game receptions (15) vs. Florida International on Oct. 3, single-season receptions (111), career receptions (277) and career receiving yards (3,486). A two-time first-team All-MAC honoree, at the conclusion of the 2015 season, Sharpe led the nation in receptions per game (9.3) and total receptions (111). Also among FBS players, he was No. 6 in receiving yards per game with 109.9 and No. 12 in total yards with 1,319.
Whipple helped Sharpe, Massachusetts' first All-American since 2011, earned second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation and fourth-team All-America honors from Phil Steele. Sharpe was the 140th pick in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans and UMass' highest pick since offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse in 2010 (second round, 61st pick).
Previously, Whipple was a member of the Pittsburgh staff as a defensive graduate assistant and video assistant.
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.
Whipple's playing career also included stops at Pittsburgh and Miami (Fla.). In 2007, he walked-on to the Pitt squad, then played in each game at Miami in 2010 and 2011, as the team's holder and backup quarterback. During his senior season in 2011, Whipple 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.), Whipple 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 earned his sociology degree from the University of Miami in 2012.
Sean Duggan begins his first season with the program and serves as the team’s linebackers coach. It is a role Duggan is familiar with from experience as a student-athlete and coach.
“UMass has a strong football tradition and a high standard of academic excellence,” Duggan said. “I feel fortunate to be part of the program and to be around this great group of coaches. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is like a second home for me and I could not be more excited to be back.”
He served on the University of Hawai’i staff as the linebackers coach for the 2016 and 2017 seasons following one year as a graduate assistant at Boston College. He was also a four-year letterwinner for the Eagles from 2011-14.
While at Hawai’i, Duggan guided a host of successful Rainbow Warriors, including 2016 All-Mountain West First Team choice Jahlani Tavai and NFL-bound Jerrol Garcia-Williams.
Prior to his arrival at Hawai’i, Duggan spent five years at BC as a player and coach and played in 45 career games before he became a part of the defensive staff that produced the nation’s top total defense and was fourth nationally in points allowed (15.3) in 2015.
Cornerbacks Coach/Defensive Recruiting Coordinator
Steve Costello enters his fifth season with the University of Massachusetts football staff in 2018.
Costello filled multiple roles over his four completed seasons with the team. Currently, Costello oversees the development of the team's cornerbacks, a role he took ownership of prior to the 2016 season, while he oversees efforts to bring in new Minutemen as the defensive recruiting coordinator.
In his role as cornerbacks coach, Costello helped 2018 returnees Lee Moses and Isaiah Rodgers develop into lockdown defenders. Combined, the duo owns 181 tackles, 42 passes defended and nine interceptions. Additionally, following the 2017 season, Rodgers was nationally lauded for his performance with All-ECAC and Phill Steele All-Independent First Team.
Previously, Costello coached the tight ends during the 2015 season and took over as the safeties coach prior to 2015 spring practice.
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, Costello worked with the wide receivers and the defensive backs. UMass’ passing offense improved nationally from 116th in 2013 to 19th in 2014, due in part to his assistance.
A 2004 team captain and preseason all-America candidate, Costello totaled 12 career interceptions, which still ranks 12th all-time in school history.
Costello earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts in sociology in May, 2014.
Offensive Line Coach
College coaching veteran and New England native Mike Foley joined the Massachusetts football program as offensive line coach in March, 2016.
Foley oversaw the growth of a youthful offensive line in 2017, which did not feature a starter in their final year of eligibility and saw the addition of a host of newcomers to the rotation. The line blocked for the Massachusetts offense as it posted the third-most offensive yards per game in team history (432.8), also the greatest total since the team's elevation to FBS prior to the 2012 season.
During his first year with the program, Foley quickly developed the offensive line in 2016. The group featured eventual Phil Steele All-Independent Team selections Fabian Hoeller (C) and Michael Boland (RG, RT).
Foley spent the 2006-14 seasons working with the offensive line and tight ends at the University of Connecticut. In his first season coaching the tight ends in 2012, Ryan Griffin earned All-BIG EAST second-team honors and Griffin 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 2009 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.
Prior to UConn, Foley coached at his alma mater, Colgate, where he worked variously as the head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach from 1981-2005.
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 final 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, Foley served as Colgate’s interim head coach during the absence of head coach Fred Dunlap, who was recovering from surgery. Following Dunlap's retirement in 1987, Foley was named head coach of the Raiders, a title he held through the 1992 season.
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 year 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.
Wide Receivers Coach
Leonard Hankerson joined Mark Whipple's UMass football staff as an offensive graduate assistant in July, 2017 and earned a promotion into the role of wide receivers coach for the 2018-19 school year. Hankerson, who played for Whipple at the University of Miami (Fla.), will guide the talented and deep wide receiver corps one season after serving as an offensive graduate assistant during his inaugural campaign with the program.
Following his standout career at Miami, Hankerson spent five seasons playing wide receiver in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots and Washington Redskins. In that span, Hankerson compiled 107 receptions, 1,408 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Hankerson played for Whipple - the offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach - as a junior (2009) and senior (2010) at Miami. An All-ACC First Team selection during his final season, Hankerson pulled in 72 receptions for 1,156 yards and 13 touchdowns during the 2010 campaign before he went to Washington in the third round with the 79th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.
One of the all-time great wide receivers in the storied history of the Hurricanes football program, Hankerson's senior year ranks as the most receptions and touchdown catches by one player in a season at Miami. Hankerson also ranks third on Miami's career leaderboard in touchdown catches (22), fifth for receptions (134) and receiving yards (2,160).
Prior to Miami, Hankerson attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where he compiled 67 receptions, 1,409 receiving yards, and 28 touchdowns before heading to Miami.
Hankerson is the father of Lenaris, Kienarria, Leonard III and Zara.
Darrius G. Smith
Running Backs Coach/Offensive Recruiting Coordinator
Darrius G. Smith joined the UMass football program as the squad's running backs coach during the Spring of 2015. He came to Amherst following an eight-year stint in the same position at Villanova and more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience overall. In tandem with his role coaching up the running backs, Smith added the responsibility of offensive recruiting coordinator during Feb., 2018.
Under Smith's tutelage, the UMass run offense improved upon its 2016 numbers during the most recent campaign. Led by junior Phil Steele All-Independent selection Marquis Young, Massachusetts averaged 135.3 rushing yards per game and posted 19 touchdowns on the ground. The 19 touchdowns ranked as the most in the program's history as an FBS team.
Stacked against one of the toughest schedules in the nation, the UMass run game averaged 99.5 yards per game in 2016. Young, a Phil Steele All-Independent Team selection, carried the load with 197 rushing attempts for 898 yards and four touchdowns.
In 2015, Young burst onto the national scene in his freshman campaign. He ranked 23rd in FBS with his 6.3 yards per rush and second among freshmen running backs. He had the most rushing yards in a single game among all MAC running backs (240 vs. Buffalo) and one of only two 200-yard games in the league.
Smith turned the Wildcats’ running game into one of the best in the Colonial Athletic Association during his tenure. Over 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.
While at Villanova, Smith and the Wildcats won the 2009 FCS National Championship, reached the NCAA playoffs four times and won the CAA twice. The 2009 championship season saw Villanova post a 14-1 overall record with a 240.3 rushing yards per game.
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 12 interceptions in three years as a starter. Additionally, he received an NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the summer of 2005. He holds a bachelor's degree in health and physical education.
Defensive Line Coach
Veteran educator and coach Dave Wissman joined the University of Massachusetts football staff as the defensive line coach in March, 2017. Wissman enters his second season on the sidelines for the program in 2018 and will continue to coach the defensive line.
During his first season working alongside head coach Mark Whipple and defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham, Wissman oversaw the development of key defensive line contributors Ali Ali-Musa, Da'Sean Downey and Sha-Ki Holines. All three earned placement on the Phil Steele All-Independent Team listing, while Downey finished among the nation's leaders with 20.0 TFLs.
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, the Wissman's are the parents of three grown sons and reside in Guilford, Vermont.
Tight Ends Coach
Massachusetts native and UMass alum Scott Woodward is in his fourth season with UMass football and his first as the team's tight ends coach in 2018-19. He joined the staff in July 2015 and worked with the quarterbacks and receivers while assisting with all facets of the offense during the 2016 season. His promotion to tight ends coach comes after Woodward spent the 2017 season as an offensive analyst.
Woodward returns to Amherst after coaching stints at Fairleigh Dickinson (2013-15) and Westfield State (2010-13). At FDU, he served as the 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.
Woodward was an offensive graduate assistant at Westfield State, 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 UMass’ all-time passing leader Liam Coen and was the team's holder for four seasons. He was a member of the 2006 squad that reached the Division I-AA National Championship Game.
Woodward 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.
Brendan Flaherty joined the Massachusetts football program in Jan., 2017. As a graduate assistant, he assists offensive line coach Mike Foley. With the Minutemen, Flaherty will also be responsible for analyzing practice and game film, reporting offensive production, coordinating the scout team and assisting in recruiting activities.
Flaherty owns a wealth of Bay State football knowledge, including four years as a student-athlete at Bridgewater State. He was named team captain in 2014 and served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Previously, Flaherty 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, Mass., Flaherty received his bachelor’s from Bridgewater State in 2015.
Graduate Assistant (Offense)
Jermetrius Troy joins the University of Massachusetts football staff ahead of the 2018 spring season and fills the role of offensive graduate assistant. Troy will help the UMass coaching staff in all facets of the program’s offensive operation, including a focus on the wide receiver position. A Commonwealth of Massachusetts native, Troy was a standout running back at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, who graduated with Northeast-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll accolades.
“I am incredibly grateful to Coach Whipple and the University of Massachusetts to have an opportunity to join this coaching staff,” Troy said. “I am humbled and eager to work for and with a great group of student-athletes and coaches at a program rich in history and prestige. The ability to learn from great coaches, and help teach and mentor young men, coupled with the excitement and optimism around the program presents for an excellent 2018 season here at UMass.”
At Stonehill College, Troy was the team’s featured running back as a junior and senior, and he finished his 38-game tenure with 400 carries covering 1,611 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. His career numbers placed Troy fourth in team history for rushing yards and fifth for rushing touchdowns upon his graduation.
Following his playing days, Troy continued his involvement in football as a high school-level coach, including at Cheshire Academy, the Holderness School and as the head coach at the Noble and Greenough School. He was also previously the passing game coordinator and the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Graduate Assistant (Defense)
Valerian Ume-Ezeoke joins the University of Massachusetts football staff as the team’s defensive graduate assistant ahead of the 2018 spring football season following a standout playing career. Ume-Ezeoke will assist the program in all defensive aspects, with a focus on the defensive line.
"Coming to the University of Massachusetts has given me the opportunity to start my coaching career off at a historical program and I couldn’t be any more excited,” Ume-Ezeoke said. “The team, community, tradition and enriched program history made it a ‘no-brainer’ to choose UMass as a place that I wanted to be. Coach (Mark) Whipple’s mission, goals and vision of where he wants this team to transcend to coincide with the type of leadership I want to grow under – I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. I look forward to work with some of the best in this profession and can’t wait to see what the 2018 season brings – it’s going to be one to remember!"
The Garland, Texas, native anchored the New Mexico State offensive line as the team’s starting center during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Following a pair of Rimington Trophy Watch List nominations (2013, ’14) and an All-Sun Belt Conference First Team nod (‘14) for the Aggies, Ume-Ezeoke moved on to the National Football League (NFL). He spent parts of two seasons with Atlanta Falcons (2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015-16) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2016).
Director of Operations
Assistant Director of Football Operations