“I was a walk-on player at UMass. Back in those days, you had a JV team and a varsity team. The JV guys were the service team for the varsity guys pretty much, so for me it was a frustrating thing. I went there as a walk-on because my high school coach had a connection with the head coach there at the time, Dick MacPherson, as he had played for him out at Cincinnati. They had been recruiting a couple of other guys on our team in high school. When I got there I was not going to crack the starting lineup. I banged around for a couple of years and as time would tell I had the decision made for me basically that I wasn’t going to be coming back as a junior. I wasn’t a scholarship guy so after playing for two years I sat down with Coach Mac and he said it might be best to pursue other life’s work and that’s when I got into coaching.”
What was your career highlight and why?
“It’s kind of tough to pinpoint because I didn’t play in any varsity games. I guess the chance to play down at Army and down at Boston College on a Sunday against their JV team would be up there. Coming in there I had been fairly successful as a high school player. I thought at the time I was probably good enough to make it as a special teams player and a backup and a guy that could hang on. I’m not making excuses but they had constraints financially as far as how many guys they could bring back and put up in the dorms, and I was not one of those scholarship guys.”
How would you summarize your career?
“I think I learned that potentially I could be a much better coach than I was a player as I got into college. The good thing about the experiences I had in college was that I was around some great people and learned a lot. The first guy I met when I got there was Jimmy Reid. He was the head coach of the JV team and my senior year I got to experience something unique. The fall of my senior year I coached back at my high school, Monsignor Farrell (Staten Island, N.Y.). The spring of my senior year the coaches at UMass asked me if I wanted to coach spring ball, which I did. At the time they were in the process of hiring a new defensive backs coach and they gave me the opportunity as a senior to coach the DBs with the supervision of the head coach. I was coaching guys that were my buddies in college, which was unique. I had a great time that spring and was able to learn a lot from being around those guys. From there I went on to be a graduate assistant.”
How do you feel your experience as a player has helped you as a coach?
“Well, I think that as a guy who has played and has a background in the secondary I can appreciate the challenges that those guys have each and every game. I also have an appreciation for the ups and downs in the position. You want to have every game go perfect but it’s not that way, particularly guys playing in the secondary because of the challenges that you face each and every week. But I think those experiences of being around those kinds of coaches and realizing that you need to just stay the course, keep competing and keep working the technique that you’re being coached, helped emphasize that success is always one play away. That’s how you have to approach it each and every day.”