Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly announced today three new assistant coaches joining the football staff. Mike Denbrock was named tight ends coach, Mike Elston was named defensive line coach, and Chuck Martin was named defensive backs coach.
“I’m excited to welcome Mike Denbrock, Mike Elston and Chuck Martin to the Notre Dame coaching staff,” Kelly released in a statement. “Because these guys have worked with me in the past, all three guys understand the importance of player development and we share the same philosophies for making our team better. They each will be valuable recruiters for us as we put together a staff that will be able to cover the country and attract some of the best talent available.”
Denbrock (as we mentioned earlier) coached tight ends and offensive tackles at Notre Dame from 2002-2004, and apparently will be looked to fill the void of recruiting the West Coast that opened when Brian Polian was not retained.
Elston rejoins Kelly at Notre Dame, after spending the past six seasons with him at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati. A former Michigan Wolverine outside linebacker, Elston will recruit the state of Florida, the same region he recruited for the Bearcats. Elston was named assistant head coach at Cincinnati in 2009, and coordinated the special teams for Cincinnati and Central Michigan. He spent time as the recruiting coordinator for the Bearcats as well.
As expected, Chuck Martin officially joins the coaching staff as defensive backs coach, leaving the head coaching position at Grand Valley State that he’s had since 2004, when he replaced Brian Kelly. Martin posted the second-best winning percentage of any active coach in NCAA, winning 74 of the 81 games he coached for the Lakers. Martin is expected to lean heavily on his Midwestern contacts, recruiting Chicago and the Midwest for the Irish.
Per an official release from the university, the remainder of the “coaching staff will be announced at a later date.”
Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.
The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.
He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:
It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.
Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.
Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.
Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.
With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.
When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.
While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.
“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.
Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.
Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”
This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.