Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced on Friday that new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will also coach the team's inside linebackers, according to Rachel Terlep of The Elkhart Truth.
Additionally, former safeties coach Bob Elliot will take on the outside linebackers while cornerbacks coach Kerry Crooks will lead the entire secondary.
Terlep tweeted the report:
Brian VanGorder will coach inside linebackers, Bob Elliott will coach outside linebackers. Kerry Cooks will have entire secondary.— Rachel Terlep (@eTruth_Irish) February 28, 2014
VanGorder is replacing departed coordinator Bob Diaco, who left Notre Dame after four seasons to accept the head coaching position at Connecticut.
His most recent college job was a one-year stint as defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2012—the year the Tigers went 3-9 overall and allowed 421 yards per game—and he spent last year coaching linebackers with the New York Jets.
Previously, VanGorder also coached linebackers for two different NFL teams: The Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005 and Atlanta Falcons in 2007. He assumed the position of defensive coordinator in Atlanta the following season and held the role until 2011.
By these tokens, it makes sense for VanGorder to lead the entire defense but focus specifically on linebackers. It's the position he feels most comfortable and has the most experience coaching, and players will respond to someone with a long NFL background.
Projected starting Mike linebacker Jarrett Grace—assuming he recovers well from a broken leg—could benefit greatly from VanGorder's attention, as could freshmen backups Michael Deeb (redshirt) and Nyles Morgan (true).
This is good news for all of their futures.
Kelly and VanGorder were assistants together at Grand Valley State in the late 1980s. Vangorder was the defensive coordinator for the first team Kelly head coached at GVSU in 1991, leaving the following season to accept his own head coaching position at Wayne State in 1992.
On how VanGorder would run the defense as a whole, Kelly said on Friday that it would be more of the same—only different.
Per Terlep and Irish Sports Daily:
Kelly said new DC Brian VanGorder ready to take defense to the next level. Will still show three and four down linemen schemes.— Rachel Terlep (@eTruth_Irish) February 28, 2014
BK - the defense will look like it's always looked, but VanGorder will call things differently than Diaco did.— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) February 28, 2014
Notre Dame opens spring practice on Monday, March 3.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BleighDAT