UMass a homecoming for Northampton native Jason Tudryn

  • Jason Tudryn, center, who is the safeties coach for UMass, works with James Bowe, Jr., left, and Logan Darby during practice Aug. 14 at McGuirk Stadium. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jason Tudryn, a Northampton native and UMass safeties coach, watches players run a drill during practice, Aug. 14 at McGuirk Stadium. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2019 9:29:41 PM
Modified: 8/23/2019 9:29:27 PM

AMHERST — Walking every day onto the field at McGuirk Alumni Stadium is a trek down memory lane for Jason Tudryn.

The modern Football Performance Center complex that now houses the UMass football offices wasn’t there when Tudryn suited up for the Minutemen in the 1990s. But it overlooks the field where so many of his best memories associated with UMass took place. The Northampton native graduated from UMass in 1996, two years before the national title run, and has traversed the East Coast coaching football in some capacity.

Now Tudryn has the chance to coach the UMass safeties, the same position he played in Amherst, and all those positive memories have flooded back to him throughout his work day.

“It’s a blessing, it’s unbelievable to come full circle,” Tudryn said. “Graduate in ‘96 then spend 23 years coaching football then to come back to a place where you have so many great relationships and so many great memories. Every day you see something and you remember something – a relationship, a locker room talk – and then seeing all the former players come back and reminiscing with them. I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”

It didn’t take long for Tudryn to realize he was probably going to end up following in his father Frank’s footsteps as a coach. Frank coached at Northampton High School for 29 years, leading the Blue Devils to four Super Bowls, including a win in 1986. Jason knew midway through his career at UMass that he likely wasn’t going to get his shot at the pros, but he also didn’t want to leave football behind.

Tudryn bounced around early in his coaching career before spending five years (2002-06) working under his dad as the defensive coordinator at Naples Gulf Coast High School in Florida. He left for North Carolina in 2007 and spent seven years building the program at Carborro High School just outside of Chapel Hill. Then in 2014, Tudryn took an off-field job at University of North Carolina as the director of high school relations.

Despite the fact Tudryn hadn’t worked on the field at the college level in more than 20 years, Bell said everything he heard from recruits when he was the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at UNC made him believe Tudryn was ready to return to the field.

“There were so many kids that came on our campus (at UNC) whether they be players, parents or prospective student-athletes, that was the guy they talked about, that was the guy they remembered,” Bell said. “On top of that, playing in a state championship at a local school in Chapel Hill that honestly shouldn’t have been there, his ability to get those kids playing a level above themselves. So he’s proven himself as a coach and then all the recruiting stuff off the field (helped, too).”

As an on-field coach, Tudryn has embodied the new culture at UMass that expects perfection in the smallest details. Senior safety Martin Mangram said Tudryn is very technique-oriented and is critical of the little mistakes the safeties make during practice when they review the film. However, Mangram said there is a sense of trust that has built up between the players and their coach thanks to Tudryn’s personable personality.

“He’s just relatable,” Mangram said. “He played here, he was a safety and you feel comfortable talking to him. He’s a really cool guy – oldest on the staff – but he has a lot of wisdom. He’s a great person to be around and talk to.”

That institutional knowledge was vital to Bell in the early days of his tenure as he scrambled to build the recruiting infrastructure required to succeed at the Division I level. Tudryn’s relationships with many of the high school coaches in Massachusetts through his father were critical in helping Bell establish a recruiting network in-state early on.

“As a guy that knows so many local coaches … all the relationships that he has in and out of the state,” Bell said. “He’s got relationships with everybody here, and that more than anything else has helped ease us on the recruiting process and make things a lot smoother in terms of transition.”

There is of course one person missing from this homecoming for the Tudryn family. Frank died of cancer in May 2010 and Jason said that he believes his father might have taken full advantage of the family-first atmosphere Bell has created at UMass.

Those are a separate but equally strong portion of the memories that flood back to Tudryn when he comes to work each day.

“Every day I think about him,” Tudryn said. “He would have a lot of fun. He’d probably be at every practice and enjoy every minute of this experience. It would have been awesome.”

Josh Walfish can be reached at jwalfish@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshWalfishDHG. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.



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