|Alma Mater:||Cal Poly, 1994|
Jim Mastro, a veteran in the collegiate coaching ranks for more than two decades, begins his fifth year as running backs coach on Mike Leach’s staff.
Since arriving on staff Mastro has guided a youthful core of backs, teaching the intricacies of the Air Raid offense from the backfield perspective. It started to come together in 2015 as Cougar running backs averaged 6.1 yards per carry, the highest for a Cougar backfield since the 2005 season. The trio of backs, sophomores Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow, and freshman Keith Harrington, combined for 152.5 all-purpose yards per game while scoring 12 touchdowns. The combined for 1,195 rushing yards, the most at WSU under Leach, while catching 114 passes for 734 yards and seven touchdowns.
Redshirt-freshman Jamal Morrow set a WSU record for running backs in 2014 with 61 receptions and the second most by a running back in the nation. Another redshirt freshman, Gerard Wicks, rushed for a team-leading four touchdowns.
In 2013, Mastro guided a running back group that doubled its yards-per-carry average, nearly doubled its total rushing yardage and rushed for 10 touchdowns. Running back Marcus Mason led the team in all-purpose yards and finished second on the team in receptions
Prior to WSU Mastro coached tight ends and F-backs at UCLA in 2011 and also played a key role in UCLA’s running attack, which averaged more than 190 yards per game, third in the Pac-12 Conference in 2011.
Mastro, 46, spent the previous 11 seasons at Nevada (2000-10), building one of the top running attacks in the nation. In five of those seasons, a Wolf Pack running back led the Western Athletic Conference in rushing. In his last four years, he has helped Nevada running backs produce five 1,000-yard seasons.
In 2010, senior Vai Taua recorded his third consecutive 1,000-yard season, finishing seventh nationally with an average of 123.9 yards per contest. As a team, Nevada ranked No. 3 nationally with an average of 292.2 yards per game. The Wolf Pack led the nation in 2009 and ranked third nationally in 2008.
Mastro’s 1,000-yard rushers at Nevada included: Taua (2008, 2009, 2010); Luke Lippincott (2007, 2009); B.J. Mitchell (2005); Chance Kretschmer (2001, 2003); and Matt Milton (2002). Five of those running backs also led the WAC in rushing: Taua (2008 and 2010); Lippincott (2007); Mitchell (2005); and Kretschmer (2001).
The success in the Nevada backfield began in Mastro’s second season (2001), when he developed Kretschmer, a walk-on redshirt freshman, into the nation’s leading rusher. The following year, with Kretschmer out with injury, Mastro guided Milton to 1,000-yard season.
The creation of the Pistol offense by head coach Chris Ault began the latest onslaught by Nevada backs. Beginning with Mitchell in 2005, Nevada has had at least one 1,000-yard rusher and a first-team All-WAC selection in each season since with the exception of 2006. That year, Robert Hubbard came four yards short of the 1,000-yard mark.
Mastro also served as Nevada’s recruiting coordinator and oversaw several top recruiting classes. He enjoyed tremendous success recruiting the Bay Area during most of his tenure and had recently been focused on Orange County.
Prior to coaching at Nevada, Mastro was on the staff at Idaho for two years (1998-99). During his tenure in Moscow, he coached the 1998 Big West Player of the Year and Idaho’s career rushing leader, Joel Thomas.
Prior to that, Mastro was a linebackers and special teams coach at San Jose State in 1995. He spent one season (1994) as the defensive run game coordinator at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and was the running backs coach for five years (1989-93) prior to that at his alma mater. His coaching career started at Cal Poly SLO in 1989, while he was completing his undergraduate degree.
Mastro, who earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education at Cal Poly in 1994, earned two letters as a running back at Cal Poly (1987-88). During the 1987 season one of Mastro’s coaches was Mike Leach, who began his coaching career that year as Cal Poly’s offensive line coach. Prior to that, he was a starting running back at San Jose City College (1985-86), earning All-America honorable mention as a sophomore.
Mastro married his wife Terri in 2002. Mastro has one son, Michael.