A look at the squad ahead of the season-opener versus Boston College on Saturday
Mike Cassano returns to UMass after spending 2013 with Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets' assistant director of player personnel. Overall, he has 17 years as an assistant coach in the college football ranks including three other stops working with Whipple.
The Andover, Mass., native spent 1997 with Whipple at Brown before joining him for the next six years in Amherst. The pair worked together again during the 2010 season at Miami.
Cassano also spent time at Florida International, Eastern Michigan and Lehigh during his coaching career.
The graduate of New Hampshire (1994) has coached in five bowl games, three NCAA Tournaments and was a key member of UMass' 1998 NCAA National Championship run.
Prior to his time at Georgia Tech and Miami, Cassano spent the 2007-09 seasons at Florida International where he was the Golden Panthers' running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.
Before that he spent three years as a volunteer coach and an offensive graduate assistant where he played a major role in the success of the Hurricanes offense and running game. He coached in the 2004 and 2005 Peach Bowls, as well as in the 2006 Micron PC Bowl in helping the `Canes to an overall 25-12 record.
Cassano worked primarily with the running backs in 2006 as a graduate assistant, helping true freshman Javarris James set numerous Miami freshman records with a team-leading 802 yards on 175 carries. With Cassano's assistance in 2005, Miami's backfield scored 19 touchdowns and averaged 137.6 rushing yards per game.
In 2004, Cassano served as a volunteer assistant and helped the Hurricanes to 365.5 yards of offense and 31.7 points per game. That year's offense produced NFL draftees in wide receiver Roscoe Parrish (Buffalo Bills, second round), tight end Kevin Everett (Buffalo Bills, third round), running back Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers, third round) and offensive lineman Chris Myers (Denver Broncos, sixth round).
From 1998-2004 Cassano was running backs coach at UMass during one of the most successful times in the program's history. During his career in Amherst, UMass won the 1998 national championship and advanced to the NCAA playoffs in 1999 and 2003. In that stretch, the Minutemen also claimed three Atlantic 10 Conference titles.
His most distinguished student-athlete at UMass was Hall of Famer and former Arizona Cardinals running back, Marcel Shipp, who was a three-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award and three-time FCS All-American. Shipp was the sixth all-time leading rusher in Division I-AA history and holds the bulk of UMass' rushing records.
In 1997, Cassano coached the running backs at Brown after graduate assistant stints at Lehigh (1994) and Eastern Michigan University (1995 and 1996).
A native of Andover, Mass., Cassano was a two-year letterman at Colgate before transferring to New Hampshire where he earned two more varsity letters as a defensive back. He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from New Hampshire in 1994 and attended graduate school at Lehigh and Eastern Michigan.
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