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Clarence Brooks, an all-conference offensive lineman for UMass in the early 1970s, got his start as a coach for the Minutemen in 1976. He worked on the offensive side of the ball for head coach Dick MacPherson, a native of Maine who was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Brooks had not been on the UMass staff very long when a coaching spot opened up with the defensive line.
"Coach MacPherson put me where he needed me," said Brooks, an offensive guard from 1970-72 who graduated from New Bedford High. "He put me on the defensive line and I am still there."
More than 30 years later, Brooks, who graduated from UMass with a degree in sociology, is plying his trade at the highest level. He is in his sixth season as the defensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens, a franchise known for its hard-knocking defense.
The opener between the Jets and Ravens will have three players that wore the maroon and white along with several other alums in the front office and on the sidelines. With the Jets: No. 44 James Ihedigbo will play in the secondary and on special teams. No. 62 Vladimir Ducasse was the Jets second-round NFL Draft pick this past April. He will play as a back-up on the offensive line. Along with Ihedigbo and Ducasse, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and several members of the Jets front office graduated from UMass.
With the Ravens No. 32 Matt Lawrence will not play as he is sidelined with a knee injury. UMass alum and former Redman football player Clarence Brooks continues as an assistant coach with the Ravens.
In the second game, UMass product Jeremy Horne is expected to play for the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Diego Chargers. Horne will be wearing No. 11 for the Chiefs in the 10:35 kickoff, paying as back-up receiver.