UMass Minutemen Coaching Staff 2023

Don Brown's UMass coaching staff comprises names associated with former Minutemen glories while blending high school success and Power Five experience.

In an attempt to return the program to its former glories, head coach Don Brown has assembled a UMass coaching staff comprising names from the Minutemen’s past successes, alongside individuals who have achieved triumphs at the high school level and gained experience in Power Five football. Can they bring success to Hadley in 2023?

UMass Minutemen Coaching Staff

Head Coach, Don Brown

After winning just two games in three seasons between 2019 and 2021, UMass turned to a familiar face to guide the program away from the basement of college football and back to respectability. Who better to lead that charge than the man who delivered the Minutemen’s most successful period in program history, accumulating a 43-19 record over a five-year span?

Don Brown commenced his third stint in Hadley towards the end of the 2021 college football campaign. Alongside his first successful tenure as head coach, the highly experienced coach also took charge of the UMass defense during the 1998 and 1999 seasons, helping guide them to a Division I-AA national title.

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While he has experienced success as a head coach, Brown is best known for his ferocious attacking defenses that have terrorized offenses at all levels of football since assuming his first defensive coordinator role, most notably at Michigan. The eight-time Coach of the Year and former college running back began his coaching career at the high school level before embarking on the college coaching path listed below.

  • Dartmouth (assistant, 1982)
  • Mansfield (defensive coordinator, 1983)
  • Dartmouth (DC, 1984-1986)
  • Yale (DC, 1987-1992)
  • Plymouth State (HC, 1993-1995)
  • Brown (DC, 1996-1997)
  • UMass (DC, 1998-1999)
  • Northeastern (HC, 2000-2003)
  • UMass (HC, 2004-2008)
  • Maryland (DC and CB coach, 2009-2010)
  • UConn (DC and CB coach, 2011-2012)
  • Boston College (DC and LB coach, 2013-2015)
  • Michigan (DC, 2016-2020)
  • Arizona (DC, 2021)
  • UMass (HC, 2022-2023)

Defensive Coordinator, Keith Dudzinski

When assembling the UMass coaching staff, head coach Brown turned to a familiar face for the role of defensive coordinator, hiring Keith Dudzinski. Dudzinski not only leads the Minutemen’s defense but also serves as the linebacker coach for UMass.

Dudzinski and Brown have crossed paths multiple times throughout their coaching careers. The UMass defensive coordinator joined Hadley after spending the 2021 season with coach Brown at Arizona, where he worked with the Wildcats’ linebackers. They also spent one season together at Northeastern, and both played a role for Michigan during the heavily disrupted 2020 campaign.

Perhaps most importantly, Dudzinski was the defensive coordinator for every season that Brown originally served as the head coach at UMass. Under his leadership in 2005, his unit led the nation in scoring defense, and three of his defenses ranked in the top 20 for total defense. Having excelled as a linebacker at New Haven, Dudzinski embarked on his coaching career, the details of which are listed below in his resume.

  • New Haven (graduate assistant, 1991-1993)
  • Brown (defensive line coach, 1994-1997)
  • UMass (DL coach, 1998; special teams and LB coach, 1999-2000; DB coach, 2001)
  • Northeastern (LB coach, 2002; DC, 2003)
  • UMass (DC, 2004-2010)
  • Maryland (ILB coach, 2011-2014; DC, 2015)
  • Albany (safeties coach, 2016-2017; DC and associate HC, 2018-2019)
  • Michigan (defensive analyst, 2020)
  • Arizona (LB coach and special teams coordinator, 2021)
  • UMass (DC, 2022-2023)

Offensive Coordinator, Steve Casula

After gaining Power Five experience under offensive coordinator Josh Gattis at Michigan for three seasons, Steve Casula joined the UMass coaching staff as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach ahead of the 2022 college football season.

Although it was his first appointment as a full-time coach at the FBS level, Casula brings years of offensive coordinator experience and success to Hadley, acquired during his time at Davenport and Ferris State. His offensive proficiency was showcased at Colgate as well, where his tight end unit set program records for receptions and yardage.

Casula initiated his career at the high school level before receiving coaching education from now-Sam Houston head coach K.C. Keeler while at Delaware. This experience provided him with exposure to offensive line coaching, and he has also worked with running back units during his time at Ferris State. As a result, his well-rounded offensive coaching expertise is reflected in his college résumé, which can be found below.

  • Delaware (offensive student assistant, 2008-2009)
  • Western Michigan (graduate assistant, 2010-2011)
  • Colgate (TE/FB coach, 2013-2014)
  • Davenport (OC, 2014-2016)
  • Ferris State (OC, 2017-2018)
  • Michigan (offensive analyst, 2019-2021)
  • UMass (OC and QB coach, 2022-2023)

Special Teams Coordinator, Ben Albert

An All-Conference defensive lineman for the Minutemen during his playing days, Ben Albert has been a consistent presence on the UMass coaching staff since 1995. He secured his first coaching role after graduating, leading the program’s defensive line.

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He returned in 2020 for two seasons as the ILB coach and special teams coordinator, and Coach Brown hired him to fill the latter position on his staff ahead of the 2022 season. Albert has also gained coaching experience at Duke, Boston College, Temple, Delaware, Richmond, and Rutgers, while also acquiring NFL experience with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Offensive Line Coach, Alex Miller

Another UMass alumnus, Alex Miller achieved All-American status due to his outstanding performances on the offensive line, which helped propel the program to the 2006 National Championship Game. After starting his career as an intern with the Oregon Ducks, Miller spent ten years in various roles working with the New Hampshire offensive line before returning to UMass as the offensive line coach in 2021.

Defensive Line Coach, Valdamar Brower

Valdamar Brewer played under head coach Brown when he served as the UMass defensive coordinator in 1999. The exceptional defensive lineman began his coaching career at Central High School and gradually progressed to become the head coach in 2008. Prior to joining the UMass coaching staff in 2022, Brower guided Central to multiple state titles, winning three since 2018.

Outside Linebacker Coach, Mike McCray

Mike McCray, a 26-game starter at Michigan, assumed the role of recruiting coordinator for the program while still actively playing, and later transitioned to an analyst position, working with the Wolverines’ linebackers and safeties. Prior to joining the UMass coaching staff as the OLB coach, McCray served as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, where he mentored the Fighting Irish cornerback room.

Running Back Coach, Damian Mincey

Damian Mincey’s coaching journey has come full circle with his addition to the UMass coaching staff. He previously served as an assistant linebacker coach in Hadley, later transitioning to coaching TEs and FBs in 2011. In between those stints and his current role as the running back coach, Mincey achieved success coaching RBs at Albany, served as the DC at Pace, and held the positions of HC, OC, and DC at CREC High School.

Tight End Coach, Matt Layman

After spending four seasons as an offensive analyst for the Minutemen, Matt Layman was promoted to the position of tight end coach on the UMass coaching staff ahead of the 2023 college football season. Layman played a pivotal role in the success of tight end Josiah Johnson, who recorded five total touchdowns during the 2022 season and achieved a career-high of 163 receiving yards in the 2023 campaign.

Defensive Back Coach, Michael Livingston

Michael Livingston commenced his coaching career at regional rival UConn, before transitioning to the Power Five level as a multi-position coach (cornerback and defensive line) at Boston College. He also spent time at Howard and Sacred Heart before joining the UMass coaching staff as the cornerback coach under head coach Brown.

Wide Receiver Coach, Matt Zanellato

Matt Zanellato, a former pass catcher at Penn State, joined the UMass coaching staff as an offensive analyst ahead of the 2022 season, and will assume the role of WR coach in 2023. Zanellato played a significant role in the success of multiple receivers at Saginaw Valley State, with three players earning all-conference honors in 2021 and two in 2019.