Neil McGrath is in his second year on Mark Whipple’s coaching staff, serving as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. During his first season as the UMass defensive coordinator, McGrath led a unit which ranked third in the Atlantic 10 Conference, allowing only 297.2 yards of total offense per game. His defense was also the best in the league against the pass, yielding only 159.5 passing yards per game.
McGrath came to UMass from the University of Maine, where he spent the previous five seasons as defensive coordinator. He was instrumental in the drastic turnaround of Maine’s defensive fortunes in recent years, as the Black Bears improved from 11th in the league in total defense in 1995 to fourth in McGrath’s second season. In 1997, Maine led the Atlantic 10 in turnover margin (+12), including 19 interceptions. The Black Bear defense also held opponents to a league-low 29 percent on fourth-down conversions during the 1997 season. In 1998, Maine led the league in sacks, while in 1999 it finished fifth in the Atlantic 10 in both total defense and scoring defense.
During his time at Maine, McGrath was instrumental in developing a number of outstanding defensive players, including 1999 Buck Buchanan Award finalist and first team All-American Jojo Oliphant.
Prior to his time at Maine, McGrath spent 11 years as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Boston University. He began as a part-time assistant in 1984, coaching outside linebackers and assisting with special teams. McGrath became a full-time assistant for the Terriers in 1988 and coached the defensive line, then added the responsibility of special teams coordinator in 1990. He also spent three seasons as Boston University’s recruiting coordinator, and coached linebackers for one year (1992). The Terriers advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs three times while McGrath was at Boston University, including his last two seasons in 1993 and 1994.
A 1981 graduate of Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in education, McGrath earned four letters as a member of the Terrier football team. He earned first team All-Yankee Conference honors at linebacker during his senior season in 1980, after leading Boston University to a record of 9-2 and the conference title. The Terriers posted an overall mark of 26-14-1 during McGrath’s four years on the team, winning a pair of Yankee Conference championships.
“Neil has a great deal of experience, having served as a defensive coordinator for six years,” said Whipple. “He understands the kind of commitment it takes and where we want to go with our program. Plus, he is a native of Massachusetts, and really helps our recruiting in the state and throughout New England.”
McGrath and his wife, Kim, have three children (Clayton, Sam, and Hannah).
McGrath’s Collegiate Coaching File
Years School Assignment 1984-1987 Boston University Outside Linebackers 1988-1989 Boston University Defensive Line 1990-1991 Boston University Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line/Special Teams 1992 Boston University Recruiting Coordinator/Linebackers/Special Teams 1993-1994 Boston University Defensive Line/Special Teams 1995-1999 Maine Defensive Coordinator 2000 Massachusetts Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line 2001 Massachusetts Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers