Andy Talley's staff will undergo another change this offseason, with long-time running backs coach Darrius Smith heading north to Amherst, Massachusetts. Smith will be taking on the same position with UMass. He was responsible for recruiting players in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area for much of his time with the Wildcats -- a group that has included some interesting prospects in recent years.
Since the departure of Coach Roc Bellantoni, Smith had shifted to take over Florida and Georgia recruiting.
Smith has a few connections to Massachusetts. He came to Villanova from Northeastern, where he coached from 2004-06 and has some familiarity with UMass coach Mark Whipple. Smith and Whipple crossed paths in 2005 when Smith was doing a summer coaching fellowship with the Pittsburgh Steelers -- where Whipple was serving as quarterbacks coach.
Whipple was the UMass coach from 1998 through 2003, when the Minutemen were still in I-AA and the CAA conference, when he led them to the NCAA I-AA National Championship. In his first season back with the school -- which is now an FBS program transitioning out of the MAC conference -- the team went just 3-9.
The Wildcats were looking stacked at running back next season, despite graduating starter Kevin Monangai and back-up Austin Medley. The team will return do-everything back Gary Underwood from a knee injury and Javon White, who sat out the 2014 season and has shown good speed and upside as a runner and return man. The 'Cats also return rising sophomore Matt Gudzak, who showed some flashes as a freshman, and added three freshmen at the position; Jarrett McClenton (who may factor into the return game or play as a receiver), a two-time All-State first team selection; Aaron Forbes, who ran for 1,544 yards last fall and set a school record for to