UMass Minutemen Top 10 Returning Players Include Jordan Mahoney, Dashaun Jerkins

Don Brown leads the Minutemen into 2023 with what should once again be an aggressive defense. Here are the UMass Minutemen top 10 returning players.

Don Brown is probably the best fit for right now for UMass Minutemen. He’s experienced, has been there before, and showed this offseason that he can thrive in this new era of college football by using the transfer portal to bolster his 2023 team.

But does he have enough talent among the UMass top 10 returning players to have a chance at a bowl in 2023?

UMass Minutemen Top 10 Returning Players in 2023

Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes that were included on each team’s roster page to open fall camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.

1) Jordan Mahoney, Defensive Back

If there’s one thing we know about a Brown-coached defense, it is that he and defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski are going to be aggressive. Because of this, Jordan Mahoney and the other defensive backs will be left on islands frequently.

Mahoney gave up a few big plays last season, but was overwhelmingly strong in coverage. Opposing quarterbacks struggled to complete passes at a high rate against him, and he had three interceptions to go with two forced fumbles.

MORE: UMass Depth Chart

2) Dashaun Jerkins, Defensive Back

Anytime a team in the Group of Five or Independent can add a former SEC starter to the defensive backfield, it’s a win. After starting at Vanderbilt and largely playing well, Dashaun Jerkins failed to break into the rotation at Ole Miss.

The expectation is that if he returns to his Vanderbilt form, he’ll immediately be an impact starter for the Minutemen in what is shaping up to be a strong defensive backfield.

3) Billy Wooden, Defensive Tackle

After missing a few early games due to injury last season, Billy Wooden finished the season on a high note. Listed as a defensive tackle, Wooden mostly plays the 5-technique in Brown’s defense, where he excels against both the pass and the run.

The Minutemen were strong against the run last season, and Wooden was a big reason why. If he can generate some pass rush he’ll relieve pressure off of a strong secondary.

4) Josh Atwood, Center

Josh Atwood has been with the Minutemen since 2020, playing the first two years at defensive tackle before moving to the offensive side of the ball as a junior. He took to the center position well, and he’s one of the top G5/Independent offensive linemen this season.

Atwood anchors an offensive line with plenty of experience, and was good in the run game last season. He should improve as a pass blocker in year two at center, and has potential NFL talent.

5) Taisun Phommachanh, Quarterback

After two stints as a backup at Clemson and Georgia Tech, Taisun Phommachanh moved back north and will start for the Minutemen. Phommachanh is a true dual threat, and he flashed that potential against ACC opponents.

This season, Phommachanh has the opportunity to take over an offense. There’s no doubt that he’ll make plays with his legs; the question is whether he can be consistent enough as a passer to improve UMass’ struggling offense.

6) Ka’Ron Lynch-Adams, Running Back

Ka’Ron Lynch-Adams was the third-leading rusher on UMass’ one-dimensional offense last season. The Minutemen have more speed at receiver this year, which should stretch defenses and open holes for the backs.

Lynch-Adams is a powerful runner who racked up the vast majority of his yards last season after contact. He should have more running lanes this season.

7) George Johnson III, Wide Receiver

Despite having one of the country’s most anemic passing offenses last season, wide receivers actually flashed some potential. George Johnson III was mainly a deep threat, but only caught a high percentage of the passes thrown his way.

This season, it’s not hard to think that the passing offense will be a bit more stable. Johnson averaged over six yards after the catch last season and should have a few big plays this year.

8) Marcus Bradley, Edge

As a redshirt freshman last season, Marcus Bradley was one of the Minutemen’s consistent forces off the edge. This defense will thrive if the front four can get pressure on the quarterback, so it’s imperative that Bradley has a strong sophomore season.

Bradley’s a bit leaner than most edge rushers. Listed at 6’3″, 260 pounds, he wins with speed and technique. UMass would like him to have a slightly bigger role against the run as a sophomore.

9) Cole Garcia, Offensive Guard

Cole Garcia was the Minutemen’s best pass blocker last season, proving to be a stable force for their passing attack on the interior. This year, assuming he continues to improve as a run blocker, the Minutemen will stay balanced and should have a stronger offensive output.

Garcia is one of the most experienced offensive linemen in the country, as he started all four years at Rice before transferring to UMass before last season.

MORE: UMass Season Predictions

10) Tyler Rudolph, Defensive Back

Rudolph is the Minutemen’s top returning tackler. He excelled against the run and got better as the season went on in coverage. Once again, the Minutemen will count on him to come down with his safety position and limit opposing running backs.

He’s a pretty sure tackler and doesn’t get out of position very often. In Brown’s aggressive defense, Rudolph is a key piece that can disrupt opposing offenses.