Tuesday February 24th, 2015

Villanova running backs coach Darrius Smith is joining Massachusetts in the same role, according to a source.

Smith, 43, spent the past eight seasons coaching running backs at Villanova. He succeeds former UMass running backs coach Marcel Shipp, who left last month for the same job with the NFL’s New York Jets.

Smith did a minority coaching fellowship with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers in the summer of 2005. UMass coach Mark Whipple was the Steelers’ quarterbacks coach from 2004-06.

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Before Villanova, Smith was an assistant at Northeastern from 2004-06. He coached wide receivers his first season before moving to running backs his last two years.

Smith was also James Madison’s running backs coach from 2002-03, a defensive graduate assistant at Idaho in 2001 and running backs coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2000. He was at New Mexico Highlands from 1995-99, first as a graduate assistant before being promoted defensive backs coach (1996).

He became the program’s receivers coach in 1997 and added co-offensive coordinator duties his final season. He got his start in coaching as a student assistant at his alma mater, Frostburg State, in 1994 after being a three-year starter at defensive back.

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Smith joins a UMass program that had a 3-9 record this past season in Whipple’s return. Smith inherits junior running back Shadrach Abrokwah, who rushed for 573 yards and seven touchdowns on 123 carries last season, despite missing the first four games.

Whipple previously coached the Minutemen from 1998 through 2003, winning the NCAA Division I-AA national championship his first season en route to compiling a 49-26 record.

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