Brian Crist returned to UMass for his third stint with the Minutemen, as the wide receivers coach, prior to the 2007 season. He worked at UMass from 1996-2001 and was on the staff during the 1998 National Championship season.
The loss of Nelson to graduation was replaced in 2011 by Talley continuing his progression as not only UMass' top wide receiver, but also one of the best in the CAA. Crist also added Tom Gilson and Jesse Julmiste into a three-wideout formation as that pair turned in career performances. In the professional ranks, Victor Cruz became a household and fantasy-league recognizable name with the New York Giants, while Jeremy Horne continued to be in the receiver rotation in Kansas City. Brandon London produced a strong season in his first year with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League as well.
The 2010 season saw another dynamic receiving duo as Anthony Nelson joined UMass after Northeastern dropped football and Julian Talley continued to develop into one of the Minutemen's most gifted wideouts. Both earned all-conference accolades as the pair combined for over 100 receptions. Nelson recorded 830 yards and four touchdowns, while Talley was just behind with 747 yards and a team-best six touchdown catches.
In 2009, Crist was able to coach two gifted wide recievers. Both Victor Cruz and Jeremy Horne caught at least 20 balls that season. Even with an off year for the receiving core, both Cruz (Giants) and Horne (Chiefs) were able to sign with NFL teams this summer in hopes for a spot on the 52-man roster.
With his return to UMass, the Minutemen's receiving corps have reached heights never seen as the Minutemen have had three 1,000-yard receivers in the last two years and nearly a fourth. In 2007, UMass had two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season for the first time in history with J.J. Moore and Rasheed Rancher. In 2008, All-American Victor Cruz led the CAA in receptions with 71 and hauled in catches for 1,064 yards, the most per game in the league (88.7). All-CAA pick Jeremy Horne narrowly missed the 1,000-yard plateau with 895. He did finish third in the CAA in yards per game with 74.6. He was sixth in catches with 50. Cruz posted the most prolific receiving day in UMass history with a school-record tying 13 catches and a record 262 yards at James Madison on Sept. 13, 2008. The mark is the fourth-most in conference history.
In his return season with the Minutemen, UMass' receivers experienced a record season in claiming the CAA Championship. Under Crist's guidance, the Minutemen had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in the same season for the first time in school history as All-CAA selections Moore (1,100) and Rancher (1,007) each cracked the plateau. Moore finished his career as the second-most prolific receiver in UMass annals with 185 career catches and 2,423 yards. Rancher also ranked on the top 10 in career catches (97) and fifth in career yards with 1,794.
Crist came back to UMass from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he spent five seasons as the Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach (2002-2006). During his time with Louisiana-Lafayette, he helped coach his team to become the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Champions. He also aided in leading the Ragin' Cajuns to back-to-back six-win seasons, the first time in over 10 years for the team to do so. He coached the school's second all-time leading receiver in yards and receptions. He tutored three of the top seven leading receivers in school history as well as working with all-conference receivers in 2002, 2003, and 2004. He also coached one of only two 1000-yard receivers in the school's history and helped the team finish in the top 15 nationally in rushing offence in 2005 and 2006. Prior to ULL, Crist spent six seasons with UMass. He served in a variety of roles with the Minutemen in his first stint. He worked as an assistant working with the quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, punters and kickoff return team. He was a part of the 1998 National Championship staff in working with the tight ends. At UMass, he coached three All-Americans and helped recruit two additional All-Americans.
In 1998, Crist helped Kerry Taylor develop into one of the nation's top tight ends, with Taylor catching 74 passes for 854 yards and earning first team All-America honors. In 1999, Crist guided Sean Higgins to a season where he caught 51 passes for 615 yards and was named a first team All-American. Crist coached both wide receivers and tight ends during his first two seasons and helped revive the UMass passing game that ranked last in the nation in 1995. In 1996, his first season with the Minutemen, Crist molded a young corps of receivers who averaged 133.0 yards receiving per game, an increase of 89.1 yards over the previous year. Crist came to UMass after serving as a graduate assistant coach under Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech for two seasons (1994 and 1995). Crist spent the majority of his time working with the Hokie wide receivers and coaching the scout teams. He also analyzed opponents' defenses to assist in strategies and assisted the coaching staff with personnel substitutions on game day.
In 1995, he helped Virginia Tech post a 10-2 record and claim a piece of the Big East Conference regular season championship. The Hokies went on to record a 28-10 victory over Texas in the Nokia Sugar Bowl on New Year's Eve and concluded the season ranked 10th in the final Associated Press national poll. A 1994 graduate of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, Crist was a two-year starter at quarterback.
Crist and his wife Amy have three children: Jackson, Ali and new addition Caroline.
Crist's Collegiate Coaching File
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